Vinyl LP £13.49
LP on Critical Heights.
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Apparently this new Savaging Spires LP is "a precursor to upcoming album 'Horizon'" but in this review I'm going to write about it as if it was an album in its own right, because heck, it's got 11 songs on it and it's on an LP! The artwork is extra confusing because it looks like side A is just one song and side Two has the other 10 songs on it, but when you listen to the record itself it quickly becomes clear that that's not the case.
The opening title track is certainly being presented as the main attraction, though, almost as if this was a single with 10 B-sides. It's a pretty strong representation of their unusual improv-pop modus operandi; starting in near-silence it slowly builds into a surging tapestry of crumpled guitar chords and tentative recorder squeaks alongside richly arranged vocal harmonies. It sounds like it's always right on the verge of falling apart. It twists and turns in smoky, imperceptible ways, and it's very hard to tell how much of this has been pre-planned and how much is falling together in the moment. It's scrappy and messy and drifts in and out of focus but that's just kind of what Savaging Spires do isn't it? The songs themselves are underdeveloped/completely undeveloped but it's partly about the braveness and vulnerability of feeling their way through regardless.
It's an interesting aesthetic and one which can't help but be a bit hit-and-miss, but it can do fun things with your perception. Sometimes they'll be drifting through a track which seems to have turned into an irredeemable shambles only for a smartly-placed chord or vocal harmony suddenly materialises some clarity out of thin air, and likewise a nicely-flowing passage can just as easily disintegrate into rubble. It's a hard to define aesthetic.
The freeform elements bring to mind the likes of Sunburned Hand of the Man and Maher Shalal Hash Baz, but with sweetly-sung harmonies giving a kind of sensual disconnect between the comforting and uncomfortable aspects which coexist within each song. Every now and then they hit on a chunk of unexpected and sublime beauty, but those moments will only be found by those who can stomach the puttering and clanging and squeaking that get you there.
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