The cupboard in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia realms. Platform 9 ¾ in the Potter-verse. The river in Heart of Darkness: spots in famous books where someone transfers from one sphere to another, from one form of existence to another. That trope is far too often applied to music - ”when listening to this track, you will be transported to another place”. Far too often and yes, we also used this one here on VoS already. However, for the very, very first time I have heard a track for which this might be really true: ”White Wall” opens ROOK’s debut full-length and man, after listening to this synth-ambient-psychedelia that is as much Amon Düül as it is Brian Eno, as much Bauhaus as 13th Floor Elevators, you are open enough for what follows next. I am pretty sure that one wouldn’t be without. It is quite overwhelming.
After entering the Infinite Empty through this barrier you might not be able to bodily float, but you’re surely “zoned and tuned out”. Being straight edge, this is how I imagine floating on ‘shrooms and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (you all know what I mean, right?). Nevertheless, when the second track, “Dissociation“, comes up it‘s as if I am transported back to the female voices from Laurel Canyon above a hypnotizing carpet of guitar (tuned to the sound of a sitar) plus some meandering drums played by one of those German krautrock-gurus. All rhythm and no rhythm, as if the single beats are not meant to be regarded as one unit but more like the swinging of the pendulum which I am staring at and to which I fall asleep. Then the mantra-esque vocals by singer Billie lead us with all their wordless harmonies into a world were gravity doesn‘t matter. Matter itself is not important as it feels pretty weightless, which is something I never felt, by the way. The guitar solo is somewhere IN the mix but not there is no hierarchy to it all. (the fact that this track with 5:55 minutes is the shortest is not really important as well, because this album just crawls through air and space).
The third track opens with another open, vast synth-space, a seemingly Asian vocal sample, some twangy guitar-line and then a bass that seems to have its hand at your back and helps keep you horizontally aligned. “The Shoulder“ is a strange track, because of course, the first association is that of a shoulder to lean and cry on – nevertheless, there is more to it because the funky percussion in the middle and the hall- and reverb-ladden guitar-part that follows both permeate a different radiation. One feels as if this is a fever dream in which we are transported to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom“ witnessing the birth of Kali and being pulled closer to the murderous goddess. Here the guitar lines seem to be caught between psychedelic doom and post-rock-crescendos. Magical, but dangerous.
The next track, “Ruis“, is another example of how effective the band is using the template of synth-basis, bewitching female vocals, pumping rhythms and effective guitar-work. This track is like an ambient doom track – somewhat like Anna von Hausswolff and Sunn O))) trying to do a synth-version of their live-performances. Again, the shiftiness of the rhythms is something to really spent some time on discovering and understanding. The same can be said about the next track “Voidless“ with Billie singing in her own mother tongue, Flemish, and yes, it seems to give her performance an even more intimate sound, as if she was conjuring up the legends of her hometown Ghent aka Consouling Sounds-town aka the new home of dunk!Festival aka one of the must-see-places in all of the lowlands! This track might be the masterpiece on the record, because its highly distorted and twisted noise-rock would fit as well on an Amenra record as on a record by Author & Punisher. No joke. The way this track is done one should not be too surprised to find ROOK soon on the bigger stages of festivals such as dunk!Festival or Roadburn. After this masterpiece of industrial noise and magic they end the record with its title track where synth passages are slowly bringing us back to the real world, accompanied by some spooky guitar parts, pushy reverbs and much ambient feel. Wake up, please.
The next big thing from Belgium (remember, you heard it here first!) surely surprise the listener with new versions of themselves – and that often happens within the tracks as they depart at one spot and end in a totally different place – and each track in itself is a cupboard, a platform or a river.