Alternative music reviews

October 10, 2005

Elizabeth by Presley

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The follow-up EP to the self titled album reviewed on this site a few years ago, Presley are still moving head-long into improvisational noise-scapes using the standard set-up of guitar, bass and drums. When the mood feels right the band will play on, hypnotising and forming experimental passages, the opening song ‘Hunting The Dingo’ is 9 minutes of unstructured no-wave while EP-closer ‘Skies Filled With Wizards’ is an eye-watering 21 minutes in length. You need great patience to sit though the last song as all kinds of weird sounds emit from the speakers, in line with Presley’s notorious live gig where they click into a rhythm of walls of sound. The intriguingly titled ‘Jeff Goldblum’ is a brief 4 minutes in comparison and one of the most accessible tracks. The unnerving spirit of Fugazi is apparent with discordant jagged guitars ragging away as Christian Campagna’s monotonous Hamilton Page styled vocals become like another instrument to the song rather than the defining factor.

The title track is quietly reflective, taking the Mogwai influence to the fore. Deftly played and with retrained loveliness, Presley provide a little lightness to their music, which continues with ‘Unfortunately You’ve Lied Again’, chugging guitars and cymbal crashes eventually taking the song as an intense driven song makes itself known. Combustive and dripping in feedback, ‘Unfortunately You’ve Lied Again’ is clearly a highlight on a record with plentiful of great moments.

When a band what to push their song structures in unconventional ways, the song writing is prone to suffer, with a lack of a nagging melody to compel repeated listening. Between all the channelling of guitar feedback, incessant drumming and propulsive bass lines, the songs remain unmemorable once they have finished. During a live setting these songs would overcome the audience as one long wall of sound, but in the comfort of a living room, part of the impact is lost. However, as a purveyor of noisy landscapes and improvisational exploring, Presley remains a band of the highest order.

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Review by Nick Collings

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