Drahla Question Our Existence on angeltape

On a darkened canvas of experimental rock, the Leeds band plunges into the depths of their elaborate and existential craft.

Music Reviews Drahla
Drahla Question Our Existence on angeltape

On their first album in five years, Drahla awaken with questions of our existence. Through the thick, sinewy instrumentation of angeltape’s opening track “Under the Glass,” vocalist Luciel Brown asks us “What was it worth, what was it ever worth?” a question that is grappled with throughout the tracklist.

After their half-decade away, the Leeds-based band has remained consistent in their efforts to limitlessly experiment and grow their increasingly complex avant-garde sound. The group drew inspiration from the seminal English experimental band This Heat, channeling the dissonant and jarring nature of their work into angeltape. However, the musicians state that their greatest influence on the album was each other. A defining chemistry between the band members brought forth the band’s most daring and experimental release to date.

A lonesome wailing saxophone guides us into “Under The Glass.” Broad, drifting strums of guitar suspend above the track in a mesmerizing haze over Brown’s indignant vocals. Mike Ainsley’s frenzied percussion steers the track forward in a scattered no-wave fashion resembling the chaos of early Sonic Youth. As the instrumental layers are shed, a simple melodic piano and yelping saxophone are all that remain at the end of the track. Drahla’s distinct usage of space within the tracks enhances the tightly wound tension that permeates the album. Rob Riggs’ muscular bass commands many of the tracks on the album, working in precise and cutthroat sequences that stiffly puncture the sound. “Default Parody” careens through a droning saxophone solo veiled in a taut mystique and broad, ringing strums of guitar directed by Riggs’ governing bass.

“zig-zag” dives headfirst into tight, discordant guitar riffs and cramped clusters of noisy, frantic percussion as Brown poses, “I am here again / This is the point where I am so shot down / What is age, what is this stage?” She lets her questions sink cathartically into the milky void, drowning in the layers of sound as she asks “Did you notice that the moon cracked / I didn’t notice the moon cracked.” The pressing nature of these indefinite questions is masterfully reflected in the urgent instrumentation, beckoning us to live within their anxiety and uncertainty.

Throughout the tracklist, Drahla continually evolve the structure of their sound. “Second Rhythm” alternates between stark acapella vocals and rapid flashes of rumbling, percussive noise. The track gradually sculpts new layers of instrumentation, filling out the cavernous space with wily riffs and clamoring bass. The addition of guitarist Ewan Barr to the band adds newfound depth and ingenuity to the guitar passages and arrangements on the album. “Talking Radiance” is saturated with transient, glimmering guitar chords that ripple and sway over an earthy bassline and urgent drums. Brown’s vocals loop and echo over each other at the end of the song, blending into a twisted, interwoven chamber of sound.

“Lipsync” is infused with blistered saxophone and sharp, accented chords that appear in meticulous flashes. Brown pointedly sings through the tumultuous ringing, “Is there an angle in which I can align? Is there some sentiment in which I should resign?” The fragmented poetry of the lyrics is visceral and emotive, leaning into detached melancholy and unease. The album draws to a close with “Grief in Phantasia,” a sprawling and raucous conclusion that continually shifts and changes structure throughout. Brown sings the final lyrical phrase of the album with definitive clarity, uttering “To be, I see, what is to be / To be, I see, what was to be.”

The group has returned with a thundering and cohesive sophomore album. They craft a distinctly athletic sound, moving through the tracklist with a patient and formidable force while grimly wielding the space around them. Drahla’s daunting and innovative sound continues to grow tirelessly. There is a palpable energy between the carefully woven layers of instrumentation, each melding together to create towering walls of noise. Its evocative dissonance builds anticipation, twisting and writhing through dense passages. angeltape’s experimentation feels fresh and demanding. The band expertly transforms the landscape of their music, never remaining stagnant in their approach. angeltape presents a darkened canvas of experimental rock, showcasing Drahla plunging into the depths of their elaborate and existential craft.

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