“ … a career curveball … ”
With respect to all concerned, a beginner’s guide to psych-dub wanderers Dead Sea Apes wasn’t – we imagine – being demanded by many. Recondite nonetheless rounds up some previously live-only recordings, some compilation-only cuts too, even some covers and then splices them all with alternate takes of some of the Manchester band’s biggest “hits” to date. Recondite isn’t just then the catalogue-spanning and exquisitely esoteric curio it proudly proclaims itself to be; it’s a career curveball too, albeit a welcome one. At 11 tracks spanning 80 minutes, you certainly get your money’s worth as well and the download version comes with three more bonus tracks if you’re so inclined! Brevity never was their speciality though.
Prior to jumping in at the deep end of delayed dub on last year’s mind-bendingly titled Sixth Side Of The Pentagon, Dead Sea Apes were equally purveyors of heavy-psych menace and fizzy bout of insistence. The monolithic “True Believers”, for example, from the Spectral Domain album is as good a reminder of this as any, its crushing and downright dangerous repeats heaving into being from simmering ambience as if a Titan crawling out of the bedrock. Keeping things loud, the wah on “Planet V” gets wilds and distorted, streaming out of rumbling kraut like the Ghostbusters’ proton packs. Starting in subtlety, the meandering echoes of “Universal Translator” piece themselves together in turn like percussive nanobots, an ominous bassline foreshadowing the exhilarating switch-up to fuzz pedals that sets a collision course for the heart of chug.
Only recently experimenting with a vocal in their work, Recondite harvests the work of artist and writer Adam Stone afresh for a reworked version of 2017’s “Tentacles”, his intense spoken/shouted word rippling out across time and space and on into an acidbath of noise. A cover of the Skip Spence of Moby Grape single, “Land Of The Sun” comes alive thanks to Canadian country singer Gabriel Minnikin’s gruff spoken parts that gives the pummelling zoner a strong Death In Vegas vibe while instrumental tribute song “The Recognition” suffocates on poignant string-drones, smearing them out into post-rocking gloom.
There’s even time to give latter-day Kraftwerk jammer “Rückstoss Gondolière” a freewheeling, outdoorsy lease of life and it’s really quite breezy in the company of tracks such as the motorik-heavy stab at Brian Eno and kraut legends Harmonia’s “Vamos Compañeros”. Sandwiched in between this pair comes a reworking of “Threads” from the High Evolutionary album, “Rethreads”, a back-masked oddity that snaps and slithers in alien movements. At moments like this it’s perhaps time to take a step back and appraise Dead Sea Apes entirely on their own terms; they’re evidently a band quite unlike any other and this window into their world – despite its obvious length – still seems frustratingly fleeting.