The bell at the beginning of this album seems to tell us that we are entering some sort of sacred space, and certainly the processive drone of the first track, Pharmakon, sounds to me like it could be set in a Buddhist monastery. Although the title of the track would suggest otherwise, it is, like the rest of this 57 minute album, a beautiful and etherial experience that one will want to sit and listen to rather than have as background to something else. It is ambient in the sense of being calming, but certainly not passive. Indeed, the press release for the album describes it as being ‘ghostly’, and while I would not disagree with this I would say that while this word describes a presence, it also suggests that something is absent; not how I would describe the music on this album. It is very meditative in a way that holds your attention.
The Dead Sea Apes are a Manchester-based trio who have been together since 2011, working on a series of pieces through which they have developed a style which seems to be at the meeting point of drone, electronica and post rock. Lupus is their first full album, which was originally released as a CDr on the Great Deep Water label but is now available through Cardinal Fuzz records (home of Mugstar and Cosmic Dead) as a lovely double album package on gold vinyl (black also available) with new artwork in a gate-fold sleeve. This seems a great idea because this music will be very well suited to the warmth and detail of vinyl.
Nowhere is this more evident than on the track Something to do With Death which has what I can only a gentle post-rock lilt which I find mesmerizing. Like much of this album the influence of Constellation Records bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and A Silver Mount Zion is evident but, whisper it, I think I prefer this to the latest Godspeed album; which in itself is very good. The Dead Sea Apes, however, have achieved a sensitivity with this record which, it seems to me, is what behind the sense of sacredness that imbues this music. It takes me somewhere else. It takes me to a good place where all can be well with the world.
As a result I am very grateful to Cardinal Fuzz Records for giving this album a new lease of life. It’s great to see a label engage in what surely is such a public service, and a Yorkshire one at that.