Sprain The_lamb_as_effigy

Sprain - The Lamb As Effigy or Three Hundred And Fifty XOXOXOS For A Spark Union With My Darling Divine


Wow. This is truly a typical 21st century record. Maybe one of the few true ones we had this century in the realms of Indie-Rock music, because it is one of these rare true Post-Modernist records which make frequent and highly efficient use of the idea of pastiche as a signature dish for really good melody makers vs pastiche as something that they need to deconstruct again. Oh, by the way, I am of course talking about the new record by Sprain named The Lamb As Effigy… out on The Flenser. The latter might be enough reason to buy, the former a reason to stick with that label.

First of all, one must say that Sprain do not make any mistakes on the new record, starting with the title, which is, in part, taken by the famous Genesis’ record The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway which in the ears of this author is THE quintessential Prog Rock album reigning supreme over King Crimson, Yes or Pink Floyd. But they didn’t “cover” the “cover” itself, they took the name, deformed it a bit and then came up with a cover which is as close to the original Storm Thorgerson (Hipgnosis) cover as you can come without using the classic typo at the top. No, Sprain makes use of that very special kind of “color code” which every Prog lover automatically associates with the color code of the pictures on the cover of the 1974 classic.

The music – well, if you are not blown away by this kind of music then you’re either dead, ignorant or a Radio Music aficionado – all three lead to the question what you are doing on this website then anyway, but that’s something totally different again. As I find it hard to explain this without the help of references you might think of the following: For the vocals think of a middle between Chat Pile’s opus God’s Country (including the overwhelming ”Why”) and Nada Surf’s classic High / Low (with the centripetal ”Popular” and thirdly Muse’s Matthew Bellamy (think the Origin of Symmetry-era). The synth-work is close to drowse’s oeuvre or also the thisquietarmy – with sharing both, the dreaminess and the eruptions in Kyle’s and Eric’s work. The guitars are a crossover between Planning for Burial’s shoegaze grandezza and Pavement’s eruptive records from their early to mid 90s releases, when Stephen Malkmus still had a lot of grit in him, whereas Thom’s way of creating his modern version of shoegaze has much more to do with layering instead of sheer volume. The drums are somewhere between the shiftiness and power of either Mamaleek megatrons or the near-Jazziness of Black Country, New Road’s most slowcorest moments.

And now, as many want to know which band comes to my mind when hearing this record (heck, I know, nobody wants to know, but I’ll tell you anyway): Codeine. There’s something about this record that reminds me so much of the guys from New York. But unfortunately, this is just a simple gut feeling and bears no truth more reliable than my own listening experience.

Something that NONE of these bands has ever dared to do was to write songs of more than 20 minutes length. Sprain have not only done one such track on this album but two and both take up one vinyl side each (they seem to have changed the tracklist for the vinyl release even in order to make ”Margin of Error” the B-side and ”God or Whatever You’ll Call It” the D-side).

I do not want to mention that the band has seen so many obstacles thrown their way before this record saw the light of day – only one of the bizarre twists: The electricity in a recording failed them shortly before they were to go and record there. That would take away too much from this record itself which not only delivers more than 90 minutes of miracles, but which also redefines what is possible in Indie-realms in the 21st century. One can hear the influences or at least one can think to hear the influences, both are true, there are surely influences for this record, and if I hear these then they are as valid for me than the ones you hear for you. The record creates this really rare but yet so important intimacy between the listener and the songs that after one listening session (or after the 15th or the 50th) you will notice the magnitude of this release. They re-define music. Music re-defines them. And us. Like any good Post-Modern piece of art does.