Say Psych: Album Review: The Janitors – Noisolation Sessions Vol. 1

Last week saw the joint release on Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud Records of the fifth album from Sweden’s finest purveyors of heavy drones, fuzzed nightmares and stökpsych, The Janitors.

Noisolation Sessions Vol.1 is a testament of three months in disturbing times. In March 2020 The Janitors had their new Album written and studio time booked ready to unleash their latest shamanic fuzz meltdowns, then COVID-19 hit and everything changed. They figured they would go down into their own studio to work on those tunes some more until things passed over. While working there they recorded what they felt was a most apt tune for that moment back in Spring 2020, a cover of Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’, it felt epic and the reaction they got confirmed it. It re-energised The Janitors and in doing so the creative juices flowed and a though kicked in – that the next week they just start writing new songs, but with the same dogmatic rules, one night of recording, one week of mixing and then it’s done; a challenge of just letting the creativity flow and then leaving the song as a testament to that moment.

These six songs are the product of that creativity, all of they came up with on the spot, all ideas were welcomed as improvisations leads to new and far-out places and even the occasional wrong note with lyrics reflecting the strange days they were witnessing and how they were affected – as well as the rest of the people they love and the world. They explain that this “is by far their least worked through art, but it turned out to be some of the best songs The Janitors have ever produced.” They have guaranteed fans that the next album will be recorded as soon as the virus has gone but until then we’ll see if there will be a volume 2 in the Noisolation series…

Opening with ‘Through the Storm into Chaos’, an apt title given the records setting, complex layers of sound accompanied by haunting vocals with poignant lyrics takes an instant hold. The repetition within the middle section of the track sounds as a cry for help, a cry that the whole world could just as easily be calling. ‘High on God’ starts with a ritualistic chant and mesmeric drumming which expands into what some would call a noisy mess, but which is in fact a carefully constructed sequence of sounds, high pitched squeals and all. ‘Indifferent State’ takes an Eastern twist, with oriental percussion, a guitar sound that’s not quite explainable and a whole host of other sounds that keep you guessing; being over 10 minutes long it is a track to crank the volume up, sit back and bathe in its glow. ‘Thing is ‘Rising’ takes a turn towards the dark, with weighty riffs that dominate and would set venue walls vibrating, if only they could. ‘The Mind is a Terrible Thing’ is pacer, with a style that has become synonymous with The Janitors and is so evolving that you can’t take your attention away from it for a second without missing something. ‘Isolation’ really needs no review, it is simply brilliant – and that coming from a Mancunian, who dislikes covers and is a Joy Division enthusiast – enough said.

As a testament to the times, Noisolation Sessions Vol.1 makes a stand. With music, particularly underground music, sinking to the bottom of the pile for many in power, this is a poignant message that fights to be heard. To create is to resist. To resist is to create.

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