Serena Maneesh - No. 2: Abyss In B Minor
This gets labelled shoegaze, but I suspect that the only reason it has been given that label is because every time someone distorts a guitar, well it must be shoegaze. And if it is shoegaze then it will not be long before someone checks out the limp comparison with My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Well, I have news for you. Shoegaze is not just about distorted guitars, it is about layering and texture. Much as I regard the high opinion of it as an episode in sheep like behaviour among people who like to sound cool, Loveless did at least have layers and textures on its tracks. This has neither. This, at times, is just pure, unadulterated noise.
It is really hard to know where to start with this. Let's begin with the absolute basics. For music to be distinguished from mere noise it must have three things - rhythm, tempo and melody. Far too many tracks on this album lack any sort of discernable rhythm. Just listen to the way the drumming progresses on "I Just Want to See Your Face". You can take your pick - either the drummer is all over the place; the rest of the band are; or all of them are. Personally I go with the latter. It sounds like the product of an ill-tempered jam session where everyone is insistent on doing it their way and fuck the rest of the band.
Then there is tempo. It is pretty hard not to have tempo. Shit, even noise has a tempo if there is even the slightest modulation in volume or pitch. But Serena Maneesh make a pretty good job of dispensing with it by trying hard to avoid any consistency in the volume and pitch. Check out the long droning opening sequence to "Ayisha Abyss" if you can bear it. Later tracks, such as "Magdalena (Symphony No. 8)" demonstrate that the band can do it if they wish, and therefore the earlier efforts can only be regarded as a deliberate attempt to avoid tempo.
Finally, there is melody. Now it is possible that you can just about get by with the merest bit of tempo and the most fleeting, tantalising hint of a rhythm and still be music. But you absolutely cannot get by without melody. Now you may think I am an old fart, but I regard melody as underpinning everything. I love a good tune, to put it bluntly, and when I am not delivered of one I tend to dislike the music I am listening to. And believe me, there is nothing on this album which would pass as even a remotely good tune. Most of the time, there is hardly a discernable melody that can be picked out.
The result is not only deeply disappointing, given my first impression after a casual listen, but actually a combination of seriously concerning and really annoying. Annoying because this is a waste of aural capacity. I could really be spending my time listening to much better stuff than this. But what concerns me is the direction music may be taking if this actually gets anywhere near a record label. It does absolutely nothing for me except annoy the hell out of me.
It is, in my mind, no coincidence that the word "abyss" shares the same Greek root word as the word "abysmal".
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