1st April 2016 – Deathwish Inc.
01. The Reverie
05. Atom Smasher
07. The Reverie II
Already, it feels like 2016′s new releases have been characterised more than usual by long gestation periods. Adding to the number of records which had been in the pipeline for three years or more that have already crossed my desk in recent comes the VERY long-awaited and VERY highly anticipated debut full-length from post-metal titans Bossk, Audio Noir.
For the uninitiated, Bossk’s career to date is effectively a game of two halves, with a fairly lengthy intermission. First building a formidable reputation in the mid-noughties through relentless touring and a clutch of acclaimed EPs, they called it a day in 2008. Sad times. However, in 2012 Bossk was resurrected, with some sporadic live shows, a Maida Vale Radio session and, shortly afterwards, a brand new song called “Pick Up Artist“. It’s release also brought news that more material was to follow. Eventually.
“Pick Up Artist” itself was notable, not just for properly heralding Bossk’s return to active duty, but for being a rather more raucous affair than their earlier material, so it was not immediately obvious what direction Audio Noir would take – but even with more of an ‘anything is possible’ attitude going in to that first listen, it still managed to retain the capacity to surprise, and have them be nice surprises, too.
At the core of Audio Noir lies a juxtaposition. Bossk’s songs lurch from delicate, spacious and dreamy post-rock to portentous, doom-drenched, heavy riffing – often in a heartbeat. It’s a device that the band rely on repeatedly, but one that they execute with such mastery that it doesn’t become remotely tiresome. Opening track “The Reverie” is most appropriately-named, lulling listeners into a blissed out sense of security for much of the track, before an abrupt gear change into spine-snapping neolithic heaviness.
That heaviness segues seamlessly into second track “Heliopause“, which also sees the first of vocalist Sam Marsh‘s interventions. Taking a similar approach to Latitudes, the vocals are deployed sparingly, and this discipline only adds to the impact when Sam lets fly one of his throat-shredding roars.
“Relancer” is the real curve ball of Audio Noir, all subdued and haunting atmospherics, topped off with a wistful Hammond organ melody. Elsewhere, “Kobe” culminates in a blackened maelstrom and “Nadir” is given a sumptuous layer of strings. The journey ends with “The Reverie Pt II” which neatly inverts the quiet/loud ratio of the opening track and gives Audio Noir a thoroughly majestic finale.
It may well have taken Bossk a decade or so to get to the point of releasing an album’s worth of material, but the payoff for that wait is a collection of thoughtful, dynamic songs that all but leak maturity. The achingly beautiful quiet passages are perfectly balanced with the gut-churningly heavy riffage so that neither outstays their welcome. Audio Noir is not an album to jump around to, but one to sit (or maybe lie) back and be enveloped by. Indeed, this music probably has a far stronger claim to the ‘stoner’ title than any warmed over hodgepodge of seventies desert rock cliches – but we wouldn’t know anything about that, would we?
While their may have been several reasons for doubting the arrival of Audio Noir over the years, they can now be put firmly to rest. Bossk are well and truly back, and they mean business. Serious, gorgeous business. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for one more listen. And maybe a Mars bar.