24 September 2011

Charge Group - escaping mankind (2009, Own)

This album shouldn't be downscaled to what it's not but instead should be upgraded to its real dimension, with Matt Blackman designing his sceneries after the endpoint of Purplene, and in certain ways we are in a similar scenario than the one chosen by Jeff Martin with Idaho.

You enter "Escape Manking" like reaching an unusually quiet area in the middle of an area currently affected by stormy weather. There are lightning flashes and pouring rain all around the country at the distance,  but you are and feel totally safe in a strangely preserved place. "Lunar Module" is such a powerful song, strong and tempestuous but under an impressive control, slow and quiet, and it strikes even more when you discover that Matt Blackman is almost the only pilot on board, singing, playing the guitars, drums and synthetizer, only helped for the bass, the strings and some sparse second vocals.  It is a takeoff song and also a declaration of intent, presenting Charge Group as an expanded and more mature, less adolescently emotive than what he explored with Purplene. The environmental aura typical of the Australian slowcore scene is a distinctive and strong part of the whole and comparisons with Dirty Three, Bluetile Lounge or This Is Your Captain Speaking give sense. Also there is a nuanced depth and width which recalls me of Art of Fighting.

Greenery and freshness are already back on the climatic instrumental "Partial Glowing", descending rock and wooden stairs downward a valley,  and you realize Charge Group still contains the poetic and sensitive side of Purplene, offering just an expanded version, which exists as a quartet too, between guitar, bass, drums and violin.  

Each song is almost an hymn, unfolding slowly and brilliantly structured, as on "Redcoats & Convicts", each new spin just reveal how flawless their compositions are, revolving around Matt's vocals, creating landscape in which his metaphorical and poetic storytelling can expand.

The most precious and intimate song is "Vice'd", soft and delicate and desperate love songs which a slowed tension buried underneath, which makes you realize how much Matt Blackman can be seen as a peer of songwriters like Mike Kinsella (Owen) or Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon).

The success of the album is also created with the balance between instrumentals and songs, as "Speakeasy Death Song" offers a perfect breathing before returning to a vivid and vibrant "The Contest", and the figurehead of the album that is the, maybe a little too - because using post-rock artifacts -, demonstrative, but still enjoyable, "Lullaby for the Apocalypse". Next to the nocturnal and ambient interlude "Pax 2", it ends on a low note with the choral voices of "Morning of superheroes".

A very good first album for Charge Group with a first half which, through his impressive achievement gives some shade to the last and more predictable conclusion. Whatever, a must listen.  



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