Crack is the new album from Shampoo Boy on Blackest Ever Black.
The Vienna-based trio’s second LP to date, following 2013’s crushing BEB debut Licht, Crack findsPeter Rehberg (Editions Mego), Christina Nemec (comfortzone) and Christian Schachinger leaving behind the post-everything in search of their very own neo-something: a powerful alloy of extreme electroacoustic music, luminous ambience and the mineral fundaments of rock and black metal. As before, they’re staring down the void, but this time they’re looking beyond it, too, for the fissures and faultlines that might let some light in.
Opener ‘Spalt’ immediately signals a departure from the monolithic doom of Licht, conveying instead a sense of adrenalised movement, of acceleration towards an ever-receding horizon. There is no percussion, yet Nemec’s chasmic bass and Rehberg’s protean electronics insistently eddy and modulate and give rise to an unstoppable momentum. ‘Spalt’ becomes a peculiarly wracked Autobahn chase, one where you’re uncertain if you’re the pursuer or the pursued. There seems to be some promise of escape in Schachinger’s highly lyrical, spiralling guitar improvisations, which nod to Frippand Goettsching, but Shampoo Boy’s vision of the cosmos is more hard-boiled and unforgiving than that of their forefathers. There are some furies that can’t be outrun.
Epic in scale, complex in mood and dazzling in technique, Crack is a momentous achievement from three improvising musicians at the height of their powers. A lived-in and emotionally-charged work, harrowing but energising, it digs deep, deep into the underworld to open up new lines of space-time enquiry. It is also a sustained achievement of arrangement and post-production remarkable even in light of its makers’ pedigree: the harshest and heaviest passages are rendered with a sense of space and richness of detail that is truly otherworldly. Russell Haswell’s astute mastering recognises and amplifies this, and the result is one of the most exhilarating and rewarding entries in the Blackest Ever Black catalogue.
LISTEN & SHARE: Shampoo Boy – “Spalt”