Drahla : angeltape

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Drahla angeltape review

Drahla employ post-punk not as a template for reproducing familiar aesthetics but rather as a prism through which to refract something weirder and more unsettled. The group’s debut album, 2019’s Useless Coordinates, proved that satisfyingly, as the group showcased a tendency toward open space and unresolved tension, agitated rhythms and caustic textures, punctuated by the kind of saxophone freakouts that were once a staple of no-wave-era records by The Contortions and Essential Logic. Yet those ties to the past feel more like a passing of a torch than a romanticization of things long past, less a revival than a renewed source of inspiration.

Since then, Drahla’s approach has only intensified. Their sophomore album angeltape arrives five years after its predecessor, a hefty chunk of time for a band still in their early stages, but it would appear that was time spent perfecting a newfound heaviness. The songs on angeltape are expectedly weird, jittery, even a bit cacophonous—their use of saxophone is more prominent and essential to their sound than ever—but with a punch that lends everything here a welcome urgency beyond their established wash of scrape and squeal.

From the opening drone and Chris Duffin’s blare of sax of “Under the Glass,” Drahla descend into darker spaces fraught with dissonance and chaos, even as their rhythmic sensibility remains taut and lean. As the song finally takes shape after its initial 40 anxious seconds, Drahla begin to more closely slot it into a more conventional dancepunk groove. But more conventional never quite equates to actually conventional, the curious quirks and flourishes within the song owing as much to prog as punk, and Luciel Brown’s sing-speak narration arriving almost like meta-commentary about the strange rollercoaster of a song itself: “Nothing/quite/prepares/you.”

The whole of angeltape is rife with moments of burst and bombast, jitter and shriek. They ride a gorgeously oblique wave between shimmering and ominous on “Talking Radiance,” take a sharp turn into hard-driving groove on “Concrete Lily,” and strike a balance between creeping menace and sinister accessibility on the stunning closer “Grief in Phantasia.” As the latter tumbles toward its conclusion, the band sound more chaotic than ever, the rhythm never quite finding a stable footing, saxophone piercing the open air like a siren. Nothing neat, tidy or easy to be found, just a fiery, thrilling collapse after a 35-minute shock to the system.

Label: Captured Tracks

Year: 2024

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Drahla angeltape review

Drahla: angeltape

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