Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Batavia is a gothic industrial band which has just released one of the year’s most compelling encounters in the shape of the Quite Mean Spirited EP. Comprising of husband and wife duo Terri and Ed Cripps, Batavia have already intimated that they are a proposition to spark the imagination through the Graveyard EP released only this past July, a suggestion masterfully confirmed by its Tigersquawk Records released successor.
The history of Terri and Ed goes back several years, acquaintances which subsequently “reconnected only by chance” and have been united creatively ever since and from 2019 married. Musically they embrace the inspirations of the nineties punk and industrial scenes and bands such as Skinny Puppy, 16Volt, C-Tec, Godflesh, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Smiths and others to their own imaginations and sound resulting in, as within Quite Mean Spirited, songs which explore an array of textures, atmospheres and incitements as individual as they are captivating.
Quite Mean Spirited opens with its title track and immediately rallies instincts and appetite with its rhythmic calling driven by a deliciously growling bassline. Its resonating temptation soon welcomes vocals and a meandering but purposeful melodic strand of guitar, the fiery shimmer building alongside soon a climatic flaming around the quickly appearing tones of Terri. Within seconds the song was a magnet for the senses and keen attention, escalating its prowess and captivation by each following second of its growing web of enterprise and textural sound, each subsequent moment rippling with darker malevolence and addictive sonic nagging. For all its industrial instincts and melodic intimation there is also a seductive hue of bands such as March Violets and Ghost Dance, a tapestry of flavours which beguiled.
The excellent start is swiftly followed and matched by an outstanding cover of the The Jesus and Mary Chain track Upside Down. Batavia embraces it to their industrial metal hearts with relish, every breath of the song infested with virulence enterprise and almost aggressive energy. The pair’s vocals are as voracious in their interpretation as the rousing sounds they conjure too, resulting in a version we much prefer to the original as compelling as that was.
The following pair, Ab Initio and Finis, unite in the inspiration and telling of a true story of a woman in 1930s Soviet Russia who after being taken from her home and sent to an island prison found only further terror, being assaulted by the guardsman and then tied to a tree and cannibalized by the fellow prisoners she turned to for help. Each is an atmospheric exploration, the first a melancholically dark yet enthrallingly beautiful embrace of intimation and sound. As sea waves lap its bow, the track floated through ears and imagination, Terri’s breath and tones rich in emotion and grief and as beguiling as the emotively heavy yet simultaneously radiant sounds around her. Its successor is even darker and harrowingly haunting as the women finds herself at the merciless hunger of the island and occupants. Both provide a striking spark for the imagination, the classical vaunt of the second piece only adding to its oppressive shadows.
The Absinthian explores the “evil that lives in each and every one of us at its purest form in the form of a man”, its electro instincts a light on the darker corners of the shadows it delves into. At times it is a rousing incitement for body and spirit and in following moments a tenebrific contemplation which evokes darker thoughts and from start to finish another riveting moment with Batavia.
Enjoyably completed by a rather potent Leaether Strip Remix of Quite Mean Spirited, the EP is a striking release from Batavia; an encounter proving the duo as one rather intriguing and thrilling prospect to emerge in the past year.
The Quite Mean Spirited EP is out now via Tigersquawk Records; available @ https://batavia.bandcamp.com/ as a name your own price download.
Pete RingMaster 02/10/2020