Insect Ark – Marrow Hymns (Profound Lore Records, 23 February 2018)
Bi-coastal DOOM duo Insect Ark is made up of film music composer and animator Dana Schechter (Angels of Light, Wrekmeister Harmonies, Zeal & Ardor, Gnaw) on bass and lap steel, and electronics expert Ashley Spungin (Taurus, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Negative Queen) on drums as well as various synths and analog noise pedals she created herself. With this unique arrangement (featuring zero electric guitars, in the traditional sense), the instrumental assembly has brought forth their latest sonic creation (through a combination of long-distance collaboration and in-studio cooperation).
Although nearly two months have passed since the record’s Profound Lore release, last night (Sunday, 15 April) was the celebratory release show in Brooklyn. Next up, the pair will be hitting the Roadburn stage later this week followed by a month-long tour through Europe. You can find a listing of all those dates at the bottom of the page, but first, check out Marrow Hymns!
Inasmuch as this band espouses its guitarlessness as a selling point, the slide/steel guitar certainly plays a prominent role in most of these nine songs. Don’t get me wrong, the drums serve a vital function, pulsating and pounding along, tying together all of the atmospheric and ethereal sounds. And the bass adds a lot of character — even stepping into the forefront as it leads the majority of “Slow Ray,” one of the lengthier tracks to be found here. But frankly, that lap steel is undisputably the star of the show.
Often doused in distortion, dripping with old-school reverb, or (more often than not) burning with bluesy overdrive, the mournful and otherworldly nature inherent in the sounds of this type of slide guitar are put to excellent use throughout the album’s forty-five minute running time. The compositions bring to mind all sorts of classic rock masterpieces (for example, at various moments there seem to be call-backs to each of the last four parts of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”, not to mention “Echoes” — as much for the peculiar synths and sound effects as for the slide guitar), but with the psychedelic sounds repackaged into the aethetic of heavy doom and gloom, similar to what Inter Arma have sometimes been known to do.
All in all, this sampling of “cinematic doom” is excellent mood music, whether you’re feeling depressed and downtrodden or overwhelmed and numb. Those who live near any of Insect Ark‘s forthcoming European engagements would do well to check them out (again, see the list down below), but for those who live anywhere else it would be strongly suggested you give this record a listen — with or without certain enhancing and/or altering substances, it’s your call, but either way you’ll be in for an interesting auditory journey.
Find copies of Marrow Hymns in all formats right here.
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4/19/2018 Roadburn Festival – Tilburg, NL
4/28/2018 Nya Perspektiv – Västerås, SE
5/05/2018 Doornroosje Festival – Nijmegen, NL w/ Gnod
5/06/2018 Magazin – Brussels, BE w/ Gnod
5/08/2018 La Malterie – Lille, FR w/ Gnod
5/10/2018 BD’s – Utrecht, NL w/ Gnod
5/11/2018 4AD – Diskmuide, BE w/ Gnod
5/12/2018 Espace B – Paris, FR w/ Gnod
5/13/2018 Moth Club – London, UK w/ Gnod
5/15/2018 Azyl – Liberec, CZ
5/16/2018 007 – Prague, CZ
5/17/2018 Fuga – Bratislava, SK
5/18/2018 T-Klub – Roznov pod Radhostem, CZ
5/19/2018 Soulkostel – Broumov, CZ
5/20/2018 Akko – Leipzig, DE
5/23/2018 Schokoladen – Berlin, DE