Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Ghosts Of Dead Aeroplanes
- (1999)

In the past, words such as "maniacal," "angst," and "demented" were used to capture the Prolapse sound, but while still betraying their non-conformist stance, none of those characteristics are readily apparent on the Leicester band's third U.S. album, Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes. Gone, too, are most hints of sound terrorists such as PiL and the Fall; instead, the album, while still full of ardor and shards of discordant guitar noise, positively shimmers in a way that might be more akin to new wavers such as Joy Division and Bauhaus. That is, more than anything, the album is pretty and refined but in a seriously intense and atypical way, and the jaggedness of the music belies its frangibility. Prolapse still deal in an odd angularity and uneasiness — the bass grumbles, the guitars aim and fire, the drums often sound programmed and metallic — but it somehow manages to be both more accessible and artful than the band's previous music. Songs such as "Essence" and "After After" are almost impossibly attractive because they apparently arise out of despair and white noise, but are elevated into shining, melodic gems that retain a mechanical raggedness of sound. Always the songs seem directed, purposeful, and challenging. A good helping of the prettiness can be attributed to Linda Steelyard's almost ghostly vocals, which carry in them the enticingly ominous melodies. Co-lead vocalist Mick Derrick, on the other hand, could be speaking French as audible as his monotonic, sometimes-spoken-sometimes-shrieked vocals are, but that is not the point; Derrick's muttering is a constant, almost subliminal presence boiling beneath the music and adds a palpable layer of mystery to the sharply etched soundscapes. The album's title seems entirely appropriate in at least one way: Ghosts of Dead Aeroplanes maintains a spectral allure that is wraithlike. You can never quite get a grasp on the music, you can only feel its presence on the back of your neck. Sounds come echoing from deep places before disappearing, and words are whispered as if from a different dimension, a different existence. Perhaps springing from beyond the grave. (allmusic.com)


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