DEATH SHANTIES - psychic rome LP, Golden Lab




“Recorded in Manchester at Golden Lab Studios in front of a small audience on two microphones by Nick Mitchell in summer 2014, Psychic Rome is Death Shanties’ second album. Due to a collision between saxophonist Sybren Renema and drummer Alex Neilson’s kit, the alto saxophone on these recordings was held together by tape, adding to the rough-and-tumble nature of the session. The result is an album that is heavier than their debut Crabs, yet nevertheless incredibly lyrical. Formed in 2013, it wasn’t long before Death Shanties was collaborating on stage with Thurston Moore and John Edwards and touring with psychedelic drone mainstays Vibracathedral Orchestra. Neilson’s is a familiar name to anyone who digs contemporary improvised music, having played with the likes of Greg Kelly, Heather Leigh, David Keenan, Ashtray Navigations and MV&EE amongst others. Renema is a musician, writer and visual artist whose accolades include performing with Daevid Allen (Gong), Marshall Allen (Sun Ra Arkestra) and Eugene Chadbourne. The crazed album art comes from the brush of lauded UK artist Lucy Stein, who recently finished-up a residency at the Tate in St. Ives. Edition of 100 copies.” – Golden Lab

“Glasgow-based duo of Yorkshire drummer Alex Neilson and Dutch saxophonist Sybren Renema return with a hot, raw live recording which delivers on their ‘balls to the wall free jazz’ mission statement. Psychic Rome is a roaring set, with a psychedelic folk ritual feel in places and some surprisingly tender moments. ‘If All Of Rome Had But One Neck’ roars out of the speakers like a rabid elephant chasing down a herd of rhino. Neilson’s drums alternate between multi-directional frenzy and monomaniacal pounding as Renema brings down the walls. After this initial scrimmage, Neilson drops out, leaving Renema to cast some gnarled tones into the void. The drummer soon leaps back into the fray, culminating in a scene of devastation where Renema punctuates his reed-shredding blats with multiphonic gasps and shrieks. ‘Spoils of Sea’ opens in gritty metallic roars and deconstructed martial rhythms. Renema drops squalling bombs from on high, while Neilson stalks the blasted earth. Pun of the month goes to closing track, ‘Fly Me To Dunoon’. Free jazz goes doon the watter as Renema essays some lyrical improvisations on the Sinatra standard. A more ragged and energetic affair than last year’s crafted studio excursion Crabs, Psychic Rome confirms Death Shanties as one of the British jazz underground’s most exciting acts.” – The Quietus