It has been seven years since we last feasted on a full-length exploration with UK Post-punk swamp-goth rockers Inca Babies, that being the final release of their Death Blues Trilogy, the thickly acclaimed offerings of The Stereo Plan. Now they unveil Swamp Street Soul to lustful anticipation and intrigue and fair to say that the Manchester outfit have once again taken ears and imagination on a journey into the unique.
Swamp Street Soul continues the ever eager evolution of the band’s fusion of post punk/goth punk, the compelling lures of death-rock and trash blues and plenty more increasingly involved in its exploration. Equally and understandably the songwriting of vocalist/guitarist Harry Stafford has also fed off the striking exploits and sounds he has explored this year alone within his solo album Gothic Urban Blues and in collaboration with Marco Butcher for the equally acclaimed Bone Architecture. It makes the inimitable Inca Babies sound and imagination even more distinctive and peculiar within Swamp Street Soul and greedily compelling.
The collection of dark tales and sinister protagonists within just as tenebrific landscapes on offer are kicked off with the album’s title track. From its first breath, the song is as ominous as it is darkly luring, its swaying gait intimidating yet relaxed, imposing but seductive. The imagination is taken to a tenebrous place overseen by the glint of pernicious lights amidst intrigue drenched possibilities, a canvas awash with the inviting winds of trumpeter Kevin Davy who joins the trio of Stafford, bassist Vince Hunt and drummer Rob Haynes across the release.
The following Walk in the Park has a livelier gait to its entrance and demeanour, a steely groove entwining the senses as vocals and melodic intimation play beneath a dark surf shimmer. It casts a landscape of suggestion and shadowy captivation, temptation and intimidation in collusion within a scenic stroll that is equally portentous yet enlivening.
An alt rock swing and punk rock swagger aligns to post punk bred rhythmic manipulation as Slingshot next ignited ears and appetite, the track a deceitfully infectious apocalyptic warning impossible to escape before Dear English Journalists shares its own threat and revelation with emotive madness and creative compulsion. The track is superb, a hint of dub teasing from the edges of its gothic rock contemplation and a body twisting and turning with deviousness in design and emotion.
Inca Babies return to and revive a song which originally appeared on the band’s 1985 EP, Surfin’ in Locustland next, Crawling Garage Gasoline springing a lively incitement for body and energy. Re-recorded and in many ways stripped down to its essential temptations but enriched with a carnivorous character and dexterity inspired from that leanness and finding an Alien Sex Fiend breath and virulence within itself, the track stamps its authority down as one of numerous lofty highlights within Swamp Street Soul; the album pretty much nothing but to be honest
Feeling inspired by the past freedom entrapping eighteen months but with a broader outlook, Bigger than all of us took ears and body as its plaything, the song a crazed but skilled invasion of mania and pent up voracity while I’m Grounded from similar suggestion of limitation keenly prowls with an anxious to erupt swing and cunning suggestion that sparked wider contemplation.
Insular angst and anxiety fire up the songs within Swamp Street Soul as potently as wider examinations. Each breeds evocative and provocative rumination and reaction within, this on top of the raw physical retort we instinctively offered to the rhythmic prowess of Hunt and Haynes and for the sonic wiring cast by Stafford that turned limbs and neck muscles into his puppet just as the words and atmospheres behind each song stoked the imagination and thoughts into gymnastics. The likes of Oh, the Angels how I bless them and Windshield Gnat proved fertile examples with their respective Stygian saunter and baleful reprisal, both tracks dropping the listener into dark and dementia lit tales with the latter especially transfixing and haunting as an uncertainty of where evil lay aligned to the surety of pleasure found.
The final pair of Mine of Bones with its addiction forging blues punk canter and the hypnotically enticing Swamp Soul Dub with its kaleidoscopic view of the album’s title track brings Swamp Street Soul to a riveting close. They cement the sheer temptation and fertility of imagination and sound that makes up another truly striking Inca Babies offering whilst epitomising the raw almost feral pleasure to be found within the release itself.
Swamp Street Soul is out now via Black Lagoon Records available @ https://incababies1.bandcamp.com/album/swamp-street-soul digitally and on CD.
Pete RingMaster 02/12/2021
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