When we last checked in with Attrition – a groundbreaking UK band considered one of the pillars of early gothic music – I chatted with founder Martin Bowes and his wife & creative partner Kerri about Invocation, their first album-length horror score (composed for the indie film G.H.O.S.T.) and one of the best horror-themed albums of 2012. In that interview, which you can read in its entirety here, Martin hinted at some big 2013 projects from the group, including their long-awaited studio album The Unraveller of Angels. That record is coming later this spring, and we'll definitely be talking more about it soon... but in the meantime, Attrition has released preview and interim material in the form of their new digital EP Narcissist. If this is just an appetizer, then I'm going to be ravenous when it comes time for the main course.
Martin is describing The Unraveller of Angels as a new direction for the band, whose mid-'80s beginnings helped shape the so-called “darkwave” music genre before they began down more experimental pathways, including the amazing dark ambient release All Mine Enemys Whispers, which is similar in style and tone to Invocation. The new record will feature a lineup of guest artists including Mona Mur, Matt Howden, Ian Arkley, Jyri Glynn, Erica Unwoman and Tylean. Expect a pretty grand presentation for this one too, with two different CD editions and a limited run on vinyl LP – which is well worth it, considering it features promo art by Holger Karas, whose work on Invocation and Narcissist is disturbingly beautiful, and infused with a dangerous sexuality.
If the album version of “Narcissist” is an example of the band's new approach, there's definitely going to be a new, more urgent energy in play; the dark keyboard washes, metallic textures and ritualistic vocals – both lyrical and atmospheric – that the band has used to great effect in the past are still firmly in place, but this time they're locked onto intense, high-energy electro beats, with a slamming synth bass line and some of the heaviest guitar licks I've heard from the band. It's definitely dance-worthy, and not just in that slow, hypnotic groove that has been applied to many Attrition remixes: this track moves at breakneck speed. The first remix by Angst Pop (featuring Technomancer) is fairly close to the original, but with more silky synth string pads; but the second version by Vi Rez, which you can hear below, discards much of the original structure in favor of a deep, dark horror ambiance – a chilling reminder that this band still has a firm grip on sonic scares – and closes with an edgy beat assault in the mode of vintage Skinny Puppy.
The exact release date for Unraveller has not yet been revealed, but it will likely coincide with the launch of the band's world tour in late April. The first round of tour dates finds the band criss-crossing Europe and eventually gigging across the west US coast (dates and venues are being updated regularly at the band's official site). Throughout March, you can listen to Narcissist in its entirety at Attrition's Bandcamp page, and the band has hinted at a music video to premiere soon. Stay tuned!