Review: A Band of Buriers – Filth
Published on July 17th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The recent Rocksucker interviewees unleash their second LP just in time to soundtrack your summer with, erm, one of the less summery things you’ll hear this summer. Feeling contrary, or just want to luxuriate in something that sounds like it was written and performed centuries ago by a bard who thinks he’s dying but really had just eaten some mushrooms with psychedelic properties unbeknownst to him? Get on this archaically creepy tour de force! (Or, as the band themselves describe it, “anti-rap alternative folk”).
“Slides By” is wonderful fare, front man James P Honey announcing his arrival with his funereally delivered “Glass of bourbon / Poorly rolled smoke / Then it’s time to go home / Spend the whole night / Chasing your eyes / Two flakes of burning coal”, going on to evidence his innate way of welding vivid imagery to internal rhyming schemes with lines like “Stalagtites cling tight to the tiny perforations stationed across the sky”. Taken with the video, the overall effect feels somewhat like a young Leonard Cohen leaving a party early after failing to woo a young lady with some sort of incantation.
Jamie Romain’s foreboding grumbles of cello on “Woe” sound like a beast being stirred from its slumber – “Woe betide”, indeed – but it is lulled back to sleep by finger-picked classical guitar and very conceivably the twinkly music box of the ensuing “F.Breavman”, in which Honey laments “We were bound to an ancient horse which galloped off towards a war / That men had lost their reasons for before the first wife” over some unusually punctuated picking. Oasis this ain’t.
By the time the title track rolls around you really do feel as if you have been transported back in time a few hundred years, and to quite captivating effect. “Long Dead” has a lightness to it that takes it into folkier terrain, certainly closer to the realms of pop than anything else so far (think Candidate or Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci at their most mysteriously pastoral); that is until the mist descends and Honey starts spitting such rants as “A whole bunch of youngsters offering extension cables to miniscule icons with still smaller thrones” and “We are all alone and no-one you know will make a difference / Bulletins bound around the flat lands”. His delivery drops off into sinister whisper, coming across overall like Saul Williams in a previous life as an old English soothsayer with a dire warning.
Next up is stupendous recent single “Cello Dub” – you can read Rocksucker’s thoughts on that one here – and then the urgent, chilling “Stuffing a Chest With Twigs” propositions us with “Sudden contortions of disquieting impressions”, “An often shocking sense of power” and of course the obligatory “Game show contestants spliced with birthday party children / Birds with prison mugshots blended with health and safety videos / Cut with sexual education videos”. Well, damn.
“Silver Turnstiles” is excellent, a subtly sophisticated chord sequence wrought from those picked arpeggios as that cello stirs again, all supplemented by extraneous noise (a radio?) low in the mix, before “Happy Again” shocks the system by – *gulp* – actually strumming normal pop song chords! The air of relative jollity is however short-lived (“How sad it would be for me to see her happy again” is the lyrically extrapolated title). Lovely backing vocals from Romain and the chorus of lady Buriers, though.
“When I and all my friends grow older we’ll hold each other and dig a different grave for the days we’ll miss” decrees “I & All My Friends”, which speaks also of a centerfold that resembles Mary Magdalen in chains, and after “Revue”‘s “Tales of prurient salvation” the album plays out on the relatively gentle note of “Oh My One”.
A Band of Buriers have about as much chance of scoring a hit single as (insert tremendously unlikely pop star here), but this is part of why they should be cherished. It would be interesting to see what they could produce with major label funding because their videos, lyrics and musical arrangements reveal a keen eye for set-pieces. In the meantime, get hold of Filth and enjoy it with a glass of bourbon and a poorly rolled smoke.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!