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Sanford Parker

Sanford Parker - Lash Back album art

Lash Back

22nd July 2016 – War Crime Recordings

01. Psychic Driving
02. Knuckle Crossing
03. Slow Children
04. Low Gaps
05. Your Feral Blood
06. Sheep Slaughter

Sanford Parker might sound a little bit like a midrange paper company, but the man has a huge musical pedigree; as well as being a member of Minsk, Corrections House and Buried at Sea, in a separate capacity he’s a stalwart producer. Having been on the periphery of so many fantastic bands, his new, largely electronic release Lash Back stands very much adjacent to his challenging metal material – but is also quite a departure.

For one, it’s a pretty big step from the material with which Parker is normally associated; a selection of sprawling, crashing electronic pieces, abrasive to varying degrees, it’s densely layered and sounds like Neurosis produced by Grimes, or an industrial psychedelic migraine. It takes time for Lash Back to sound anything other than impenetrable and downright overwhelming; similar to Parker’s metal projects, but more immediately so.

Where many of the tracks are slower-paced and sinister, there are some – notably album opener “Psychic Driving” – that move with more purpose. Certainly these tracks have an architecture lurking under the dense, noisy mass, but by the end of the record most of the structures dissolve into an abrasive hellscape, and it’s easy to loose focus a little when the listener is so assaulted with sounds. In its defence, this feels deliberate; the album’s structure becomes looser but it’s much more than the collection of off-putting noises and aggressive samples it threatens to be.

As a drummer, it’s refreshing to listen to metal-adjacent music that has such an unusual use of drums and rhythm, and where a drum machine is used more as an instrument than to emulate a human. This faintly reminds me of some of Björk‘s drum machine work, specifically “Hunter” or even the Biophillia-era material. Lash Back‘s tracks often have a pulse which gives them a coherency; by the mid-point it becomes apparent how important these are to hold everything together, even when they stray form the path. Of particular note is the escalating intro to “Slow Children“, a brief respite from the chaos of the rest of the album, and by some margin the most restrained and effectively haunting track on the record.

In addition to an inquisitive metal listener, this album will also appeal to people who are interested in the synth explosion but are a little turned away by the 80s immersion. This feels fresher and less of a pastiche; again, closer to the emotive work of Björk or some kind of hellish version of Grimes than Perturbator or Maserati.

Lash Back is not a welcoming record. There aren’t many comparable acts who are so visceral and angular, but it’s a rewarding listen and another success for Parker, who has found another avenue in which to excel. For anyone following his work this is more than worth your time, and for metal fans who are intrigued by electronic music, this may scratch an itch you didn’t know you had.

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