Crush Depth
8

  • Chrome Hoof
  • Southern
  • 2010-05-24

Crush Depth is the second full-length from the twelve-piece genre-bending phenomenon Chrome Hoof. Reportedly telling the story of a spaceship’s final moments before destruction, all from the perspective of “a lone ship’s biscuit” the record is expectedly a strange journey down a loud and intense path.

After a short intro track of noises, “Crystalline’s” gruff monster tones and big electronic arpeggiations launch the album off into a glorious upbeat Battles-type math bounce with pumped drums and scrawly guitars and synths. Breaking to the effected violin — a huge presence across the whole record — the song switches to a simple repeating riff, the style of which forms the basis of much of the groups material along with Lola Olafisoye’s vocals at the fore — with disco diva affront. The bass is always big, courtesy of group mastermind Leo Smee, and is here built up with brass, guitars and synths adding texture and power. Straight after its close “One Day” beats in to a hard funk bounce, embellished with prog punctuation squiggles and the jazz-rock edge of a deranged King Crimson. Just like Crimson too there us always an intensity either right there or just arous the corner — Leo and brother Milo (drummer) leading the charge into music more akin to the huge metal riffage of Leo’s day job in Cathedral, with Lola’s vocals always more than up to the twist into darker territory.

embellished with prog punctuation squiggles and the jazz-rock edge of a deranged King Crimson

“Labyrinth”s piano riffs a trademark offbeat quirk in its pattern, here switching into a counterpoint section with almost ska-like bounce behind twisted prog riffery. Later a breakdown to violin and piano interplay brings an anachronistically pastoral edge to a sound that veers wildly from here to there but seems much more to be based way out in space or right in the fiery centre of the planet. On “Sea Hornet” the jazz prog riff is way out in space — recalling the Zeuhl stylings of one of guitarist Kavus Torabi’s other groups Guapo, though switching to a cymbal-heavy funk section of bubbling bass and shimmering keys. An instrumental heavy track, “Sea Hornet” even leads to Zappa-style craziness before more crystal jazz and a drawn out fusion jam of organ, violin scree and percussion.

The bass/drum prog riff of “Mental Peptides” repeats like a sonic punch to the gut, other instruments adding to and weaving round the pattern as it gathers beats and notes here and there and develops a mood of a 70s film soundtrack. “Bunkers Paradise” offers a weird sci-fi synth riff before taking the album back to the trademark pumping rhythm and staccato vocal attack (you can hear the dancing movement in the delivery). A cinematic edge remains though with a Bond-like section of twinklings and orchestral embellishments.

solo notes in a spacey section turn into more metal riffery before the song’s close

The tempo drops for the slower disco funk hits of “Towards Zero” with slap bass and punchy drums. But the poppy section set against it is taken on a deeper darker journey where the bass drops an octave and synth effects and affectations draw out a strange atmosphere under spoken-word tales. It is on “Witches Instruments And Furnaces” however, the ninth track, which is the first to offer any real sense of space in a much more open and expansive sound. The first mid pace beat sits within an exploratory mood of vibrating tones over light melodic bass. Unsurprisingly though the lengthy track powers out for the last few minutes with full-on instrumental workouts. Continuing the intensity further “Third Sun Descendent” elevates the noise into chugging metal riffage. The classic crazed soul vocal is offered first but then a ‘chorus’ section delivers a real insane scream — think Pre-Emptive False Rupture’s mental “Death is Certain” track for reference.

In the later stages of the record “Deadly Pressure” delivers a punchy rapid beat with repeating bass notes. The gruff monster tones appear again as well as jazz bass and cinematic strings. A spoken word section offers a different voice for exposition of the ship’s apocalypse. And there’s some more big riffing.

The album’s penultimate effort is recent download-only single “Vapourise” — an instrumental track working the electro disco side of the group with a pulsing beat and distorted synth bass line. Slap bass sections aid the 80s mood of the piece and after a brief orchestral intervention the synth strings linger in sustained notes over the disco to prefectly recall Italian exploitation soundtracks. To close the album unconventionally as ever the playful “Anorexic Cyclops” is Zappa-esque electro nonsense with melodies performed by random sounds.

a remarkably focused sound throughout

Crush Depth is a mentalist meld of funk, disco, electronics. prog, jazz and metal which keeps a remarkably focused sound throughout. Songs consistenetly seem longer than they actually are with the energy, changes and sheer amount of activity on display. Being the group’s second album the overall sound hasn’t quite the effect of the debut, although the songs have individual impact and the sheer intelligent craftsmanship on display alongside continual grooves is impressive and effective.

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