Adding weight to the argument that good things are worth waiting for, Houses of the Sun is the first album in six years from The Blood Choir.
Following on from 2012’s No Windows to the Old World this ethereal album emerged against the odds. Formed in Bristol in 2009, founding members Robin Madicott and Joe Mountain suffered personal tragedy, acrimonious dissolution of their touring band, parting from their record label and found themselves separated geographically, with the former relocating to Denmark for family reasons. With the album half finished, the duo communicated electronically across the oceans, incrementally sending ideas and audio backwards and forwards. This formed a framework that would ultimately be fleshed out in a three-week UK studio stint, under the guidance of producer John Walker. Finally completing the vision they began building five years earlier.
Houses of the Sun begins in the atmospheric manner you’d expect from The Blood Choir but with a bass that shakes your innards. The haunting vocals and sinister tone is broken by a swirling maelstrom of guitar that cuts and drop again with deep bass. An eddy of overdrive forms the backbone of first single to be taken from the album The Boat. The driving beat and vocal hooks of this track give it a dark dance floor feel that would make a perfect soundtrack for gunning down a dark highway in the small hours. Switching Off the Perfume Garden is the sonic dawn that follows and perfectly blends piano and guitars to Caldecott’s vocal. Second single Drake has the piano and vocal gently pull you in to a spellbinding vortex of guitar. Outward Travel Must Not Be In The Past and White Bear provide the perfect counterpoint to the guitar tumults of tracks like The Boat and Drake. Simon’s Beach is a brooding, asperous pastiche of sounds with soaring vocals that are both enchanting and foreboding.
As the record closes out with Tide its taken you through rises and falls, hooks and stops, drenching feedback and delicate piano. It’s an album of sounds that are perfectly balanced. Beautiful in places, dark and sinister in others. It will draw obvious comparisons to Mogwai and Pink Floyd. It also reminded me of Mark Lannagan’s Bubblegum album, but sang by an angel rather Lannagan’s menacing devil. Or more like if all three got together to soundtrack an Ingmar Bergman movie. This record got more rotations before review that any album I’ve written about so far. Because multiple times after hitting play, I found myself deeply lost in the world this album creates.