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From Trondheim, Norway I bring you Shamblemaths, one of the most intriguing albums I have heard all year. The band started in 2004 under a different name although I don't know much about that part of their history. After a long break they resurfaced in 2016 as Shamblemaths and released their self-titled debut. This is a duo consisting of Simen Ådnøy Ellingsen (electric, acoustic and Spanish guitar, alto, soprano and baritone saxophone, vocals, zither, percussion and keyboards) and Eirik Mathias Husum (bass guitar). There are also a number of guests who contribute a variety of instruments, most notably Hammond organ which is quite prevalent throughout the CD.
This is one of those albums that is hard to get immediately as the band's approach is unorthodox and quite experimental at times delving into the avant-garde. That said, there are some wonderfully melodic moments as well so the listener gets a bit of everything with this release. There are only three tracks but over fifty-six minutes of music with the opener "Conglomeration" clocking in around twenty-seven minutes and the band take every opportunity to explore different sounds and genres. It begins with a slightly off kilter piano melody before heavier guitars and a complex vocal arrangement, including choirs, begin to take shape. The pace slows and quickens as the music weaves through various sections, some bordering on the chaotic while others are quite pretty and melodic. The acoustic guitar and Hammond organ, in particular stand out. The saxophone work is another highlight, sometimes leading the music into complete chaos while at other times finding a more melodic groove. "A Falling Ember" starts with a wonderful acoustic melody and gentle vocals with perhaps an early Genesis influence before heavier riffs are injected into the soundscape. More acoustic moments follow and then the band's quirky nature shines through as the music gets more experimental and much more heavier. But wait, the riffs stop and acoustic and Spanish guitar take over. Effects laden vocals add to the unsettling atmosphere. The last track "Stalker" is perhaps the most melodic and really develops a great groove while still retaining a cutting edge sound along with some neat twists and turns.
Whether or not you will be captured with this release is unclear but one thing is for certain, you will not be bored and the arrangements and musicianship will certainly impress.
1. Conglomeration (26:54)
a) Bloody Racket
b) Your Silly Stare
c) A Mockery in the Making
d) The Different Tastes of Sick
e) A Mockery Well Made
f) Life is Tough (When You're Me)
g) Saucy Tiara Woman!
h) Another Pear of Ice
i) Con-Girl Omen Ratio 1
2. A Falling Ember
a) Never Innocent Again
b) The Winding Stair
c) Three Flowers
d) Deus Caritatis
3. Stalker (19:52)
a) Stalker Begins
b) Bad Conscience Underneath Your Gown
c) Stalker: Persistence
d) Stalker's Lullaby
e) Stalker: The Harrowing
f) Stalker: Inevitable Anticlimax and Fade-Out
Added: July 3rd 2016
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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