Leeds Music Scene

Ring Road by Desolation Angels

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Reviewed on 24th November 2004.


Ring Road

By Desolation Angels

I had a house, yeah, and I had a car
And it looked pretty good as I looked like I should
- Asylum

Hailing from West of the Pennines, Desolation Angels have been cutting introspective slices of beat-poetry set to minimal, glistening guitars and keyboards, underscored by subtle and characteristic drumming, since the turn of the century. Or thereabouts. On Ringroad, one of three tracks here taken from the Angels' debut album 'Asylum' (also on Blue Cat records - obviously) - Mandy Daynes fragile open vowels and curvy, distinctly feminine, handwriting, hold your hand and guide it through a wide-eyed observation of the simulacrum of urban meta-narratives, a deconstructive semiotic landscape where remembrance is key. Not to say that this is overtly diaristic - but threads of situationist angst colour the weft with indigo-blue, whilst the warp is most definitely cast from concrete, perhaps lit with the lights from far away lofts and hot, bright gels from the venues that the Angels' van passes through when on the road, which are many and often.

Her head and mouth are, seemingly, far from empty... but, to paraphrase, what can you say, you haven't heard it...? But I'm sure you will.

On Steppenwolf, ('she drive the knife in only to hide the bruise' is an oddly reassuring line), Steph Walkers' piano and Daynes' guitar, all delays, tremolos and fifths, underscored with Gareth Poulton's snare, evoke the best post-alternative Kadian (or some appropriate placebo) fuelled song-smithing; there are indeed elements of East-Coast/Alt flying through the strong arrangement (And you should know that Zedek remains the greatest living song-writer) - of course all references are ephemeral and mood dependent but Dead Women, an acoustic waltz, is, though, oddly Northern English - a disturbingly subtle narrative folk-song, that sounds much simpler than it is (and I've been working it out on my Casio all day with my jeans rolled over my boots), dual-vocalled and armed with a flute. This is not mere briccolage though.

The fourth track - the video to the albums eponymous track, ('Asylum' - remember?) inhabits a Victorian tinged nostalgia for unbroken dreams and promises, with sepia dolls, rocking horses and Chtcheglovian cathedrals, and is by far the most obvious song on the CD - it rails and it protests with sweeping dignity. This is a too rare a thing.

Given that the majority of bands currently reaching into the lower rungs of job-security are semi-illiterate boy-gangs with sweaty, semen-encrusted hands firmly jangling their loose change, the Angels do have a manifesto much removed from the obvious lowest common denominator. Currently gigging nationwide, and having previously been involved with Ladyfest (terrible name but see also Leeds' own Ms Sojourn) - and Rock against Racism, their credentials and current position are laudable.

... Guess I like it then.



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