Unintentional maybe but the title of New Age Doom’s latest ‘There Is No End’ describes the extent of the Vancouver duo’s musical vision, reach and range. Drummer Eric J. Breitenbach and guitarist Greg Valou have always shown intention to develop their original dark ambient doom metal chaos theory rather than dig deeper into the same cavern. Their ‘Guide To The Universe’ project in 2021 which featured Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry as inspiration, sonic guide and guest vocalist in many ways shook up the possibilities of post-rock fusion while its partner release, ‘Remix the Universe’, stood out as one of last year’s most essential re-imaginings.
No surprise then that this next album, out via the irrepressible We Are Busy Bodies, sees New Age Doom mining their creative soundscape still further. On ‘There Is No End’ they team up with Norwegian alt-folk shoe-gazer Tuva Hellum Marschhäuser (aka Tuvaband), who they first worked with on the ‘Remix The Universe’ set, to explore the ripple effect of melody and delicacy on their often turbulent music. Equally significant is the recognition that New Age Doom thrive best as a band, so other familiar collaborators, including Tim Lefebvre and Cola Wars, provide essential underpinning. As Greg Valou explains the aim of the New Age Doom collective/Tuvaband intersection is to “strike a balance between serenity with chaos, and accessibility with experimentation“.
Such navigation kicks in from the off with the all-consuming In The Beginning. Tingling guitars, a light rhythmic dusting and Marschhäuser’s crisp narration breath glacial pop freshness and a hint of Sugarcubes’ Bjork into the song’s gentle introduction. The album’s lyrical foundations get set, thoughts on permanence and loss, hope and resignation, beginnings and ends, while the band’s momentum gathers around Greg Valou’s tightly wound electric raga. You sense an impending implosion and when it comes with a rolling thunder of drummed dynamism matched by a submerged doom chord pulse, it heaves in a spiral of twisting improv. Here is a stunning, early indication that ‘There Is No End’ is a work of ambition and scale.
Fearless Talisman brings further evidence of New Age Doom’s version of ’big music’. Scurrying in on a jangle of jazzed psychedelia, Dan Rosenboom’s soaring trumpet and Tuvaband’s gliding vocal chorale add to the escalating sound storm. Sure enough, the cue of the singer’s tentative “I’m afraid of nothing“’ sees the piece surge into overdrive with bass, sax and flute lines swarming while the drums (possibly a twin input from Breitenbach and Bene Pierleoni) pound emphatically. The track in many ways captures the shift in the New Age Doom modus that the Tuvaband collaboration has prompted. This time around the approach is less single take and open-ended and as Valou recognises “more meticulously planned, iterated, and refined“. Certainly the song’s narrative and how it needs to unfold creates boundaries for the band’s more explosive free-wheeling to push against.
The shimmering melodics of Time Lost shows a similar structural integrity. Space is made around Marschhäuser voice, preserving its delicate, almost weary reflection of facing “one time too many” but then again “not enough time”. It’s a forceful avant power ballad lifted well clear of any cliché by the Rosenboom and Templeton’s searing horn trajectories and Lefebvre’s insistent bass runs. By the close the aching that the vocals reveal is made more dramatic by the band’s energy which shudders with Jaga Jazzist power.
What this album is also a reminder of is the range of New Age Doom’s influences and reference points. It builds as much on the free jazz and fourth world sensibilities of their ‘Himalayan Techno Dream’ release as the spirituality of the Great Upsetter’s other-worldly presence on ‘Guide To The Universe’. The instrumental eastern toned Kurgan Dwellers matches Crook One and Cola Wars’ looping gloopy trip hop shuffle to a winding saz pattern as the processional heads to the horizon. The riff drama swells with cavernous orchestration before the trek moves onto to its meltdown oblivion. Intraterrestrial follows with funkier Anatolian psych grooves as it glides cosmos bound, spun giddy by pumping sax, latin trumpet and Lefebvre’s bass grabs. Yes there’s fuzz and chants in all their glory – “Zeuh! Hhai” indeed.
When you take a breath and step back you realise that such high-pressure wig-outs are key to the impact which ‘There Is No End’ delivers. New Age Doom’s dynamic control as a group is defined by these passages. They know their sonic dimensions, how far to stretch them out and the exact magic moment to rein them in. The same applies when they dive into the deeper grooves of the blissful title track that rounds off the recording. Rolling over the ten-minute mark, this is long form song writing at its very best, Sandro Perri style. Immersive Massive Attack beats uncurl hypnotically as the emotive post rock, glistens with Gondwana jazz flourishes and Marschhäuser’s ice-edged vocal. Pushed to the fore the expression in that voice takes hold, “this year I’m going to be happy/I’m afraid of nothing” sounding resolved but pricked with vulnerability.
‘There Is No End’ is clearly a resounding statement which picks up the mantle from Kym Myhr’s immense ‘Sympathetic Magic’ album as one of the most complete recent electric rock re-constitutions. It even approaches the benchmark set way back when by ‘Black Mountain IV’ … so you know just what to do.
Get your copy of ‘There Is No End‘ by New Age Doom/Tuvaband from your local record store or direct from We Are Busy Bodies HERE