Thursday, 10 October 2013

REVIEW: NO CEREMONY/// - 'NO CEREMONY///' (NOC/// Records)

NO CEREMONY/// are a Manchester trio who are known for haunting electro pop as well as excessive use of capitalised, gapless titles, and their self titled debut arrives after a number of fine single releases, which are also present here. It's a collection of songs touched by heartbreak, longing and late night vibes, and the whole record has an after hours atmosphere, a transcendental spirit projected through elegant house stylings. A crystal clear production is applied to the music, bringing out the best in their ideas, and at times its glacial atmospheres bring to mind a more downbeat version of The xx.

From the opening track 'HURTLOVE', you've got a pretty good idea of where this LP is coming from, and for a band who prefer to maintain a low profile, much of the music has an appropriately enigmatic feel to it. Intentionally robotic vocals (NOT autotune) are an immediate feature that come to define much of the album. These vocodered voices add a detached coldness but somehow pure human emotion is still the driving force. An emotional floor filler done to perfection, the exquisite 'FEELSOLOW' is nothing less than a proper dance anthem, very much like something that Perfecto Records could have released in the 90's. Solemn yet euphoric, the piano notes plead and yearn, while the rhythm pulses very much like a heartbeat. If I could only pick one track from everything here, it would be this one. Without a doubt one of the songs of the summer, moodwise it's also icy enough to sound good in the winter.


The darker territory of 'HEARTBREAKER' finds Pixies man Joey Santiago lending piercing guitar to the cold, buzzing ambience, while heartbreak is also at the heart of the sweeping, slow paced 'WARSONGS'. The Bon Iver-esque 'AWAYFROMHERE' isn't as pleasing, while the post-house atmosphere that haunts 'HOLDONME' wears a little thin after a while. Things improve again with the dark, ethereal 'PARTOFME', where sombre, piano-based electronic elegance makes way for a heavy post-dubstep beat and more drama. Closing the rather brief debut offering are the gracefully sad 'DELIVERUS' and the noticeably brighter, acoustic flavoured sigh of 'HEAVYHOUR'. 

The middle of the record goes through a weak patch, and undeniably there isn't a great deal of variety here. They seem to have settled on a certain style and they are more than happy to do all that they can with it. When they come up with dark, emotive treasures like 'FEELSOLOW' they manage to perfect this sound, but when they're losing the listener's interest halfway through a 32 minute album, it's clear that they might need to learn a few new tricks if they want people to come back for more in the future. Despite this, its high points are good enough to earn it a 7/10


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