If you have allowed the boisterous noise and feral enterprise of Punching Swans to trespass ears before you will not be surprised to read that as maturity and a new bold touch embraces their latest release, their cacophony of sonic devilment is just as insatiable. Faces is a collection of tracks which stalk the imagination, manipulate the senses, and send the body into blissful spasms whilst courting a whole new level of adventure with the British trio.
Bred in the ever fertile round of the Medway region of Kent, Punching Swans is the creative union of vocalist/guitarist Greg Webster (Houdini), bassist/vocalist Joseph Wise(Frau Pouch), and drummer/vocalist Pablo Paganotto (The Explorer’s Collective). Formed in 2012, apparently “as a dare”, alongside their other projects, the band has simply grown in a sound, taking on inspirations from the likes of from The Fall, Sonic Youth, Bogshed and Mclusky as well as the dark realms of John Carpenter, The League of Gentlemen and The Evil Dead films, their imagination ensnaring releases perpetually earning bigger and keener acclaim. A self-titled debut that first year was a kind of warm up for the greater exploits inside Mollusc two years later. The album reinforced the band’s inimitable sound and creative mischief but flourished as the threesome in many ways ’took things more seriously’ with the project. Its qualities and success was only eclipsed by its successor Nesting in 2016 just as its seriously impressive character and adventure has been put in the shade by Faces.
The new album’s theme is a dark and compelling proposition; the release made up of eleven faces (tracks), each referring to the faces of serial killers. As Webster explains, “They each have a stupid feature for a face which is related to their story… so people who look kinda stupid and are unlikely killers. But then again, who is a likely killer? Can you really tell by appearance? As we wrote each new song they seemed to fit into a particular image of a face and from there we wrote what their particular background story was. We were picturing a kind of Dick Tracy rogues gallery of villains. “
The album opens up with Blood Face, gradually looming up on the senses in a sonic shimmer before a raw wash of voice and sound explodes on ears. The scything beats of Paganotto pounce and swing as a sonic swash of guitar colludes with the rapaciously dark mumblings of bass, a fiercely magnetic union completed by eager vocals. Slipping melodic teasing amongst its ravenous discord, the track is a magnificent and quickly addictive start to an album which only escalated every lure heard with imagination thereon in.
The following Areola Face instantly had hips swaying and appetite’s tongue licking lustful lips as Wise’s throaty bass strolls with dark but infectious intent, a catchiness only accentuated by the more ‘violent’ animation of guitar and beats. Ebbing and flowing in its volatility, vocals following suit, the track provides a caustic flirtation before Strobe Face licks at the senses with a rapid flicker of beats and a sonic sunspot which in turn sparks a slightly corrosive but fully captivating trespass; a captivation only boosted by the singular dance of vocals and beats which escapes before things become more psychotic yet tenderly seductive.
Through the calm but predacious post punk militance of Batter Face and the reserved siren-esque psychosis of Coral Face, animated temptation richly soaked ears; Paganotto’s kinetic swings as conniving and irresistible as the intimation shredding exploits of Webster and Wise’s skilful rhythmic dark saunters, traits fuelling the whole album from start to finish. The latter of the pair has a definite Houdini meets The Fall feel before making way for the simply glorious murderous drama and inharmonious beauty of Cliff Face. Featuring Dan Toms of Bear vs Manero and the biggest treat out of nothing but, the track is simply manna for ears and spirit, unscrupulous rascality at its best.
The following pair of Grater Face and Lady Cheese Face refers to each other, the songs “Romeo and Juliet-style lovers who simply could not be.” The first is a wild slice of post punk ‘n’ roll with a personality something akin to Mclusky meets The St Pierre Snake Invasion while its companion of sorts shows a devious side to its more tamed incursion on the senses. Discordant yet with a sonic elegance which is as threatening as it is alluring, the track is a true predator of a song, getting under the skin with subtlety and flirtation before gnawing away with bloodthirsty relish.
Raw and wolfish, Carpenter Face infiltrates ears next with an almost industrial like hue to its expanding tapestry of lawless noise. A low key serenade with a portentous breeze of sonic duplicity inserts itself in the breaths between it and Face Face straight after, the piece brief and never quite breaking the surface of its limbo before the penultimate track careers in on a rhythmic canter with a sonic mane spraying in its trenchant winds.
God Face completes the release, the song a lure of shadow bound celestial scheming simultaneously tenebrific and radiant round another simply rousing rhythmic incitement from Paganotto and Wise alongside the melodic dissonance of Webster.
It is an enthralling end to a quite superb and increasingly addictive release. Punching Swans has never been as so damn manipulative or devilishly rousing as they are within Faces. It is not only a band at its momentously best but noise rock/post punk too.
Faces is released October 26th via Skingasm Records; available now for pre-order @ https://punchingswans.bandcamp.com/album/faces
Upcoming live shows:
OCT 26th LEEDS, Chunk
OCT 27th LIVERPOOL, Invisible Wind Factory
NOV 9th LONDON, Aces & Eights
Pete RingMaster 23/10/2018
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright