By: Pete McTaggart
Mothers In Furs | facebook | bandcamp |
Before At The Drive-In dived fully into the caustic seas which eventually tore them apart with their final release, they’d treaded a slightly more conventional path producing a few records very much worthy of investigating in Vaya, In Casino Out and Acrobatic Tenement. Throughout these relatively unknown releases, the band created landscapes of murk & dread, in a very engrossing manner. Borrowing liberally from early Pixies, their first few albums utilised dynamics in a way not often seen to such levels. Their experimentation led to their wonderfully received magnum opus Relationship of Command in 2000.
Slint’s 1991 release Spiderland is often held up as a being incredibly influential in post-rock circles, despite not having a great deal to do with many of the more visible bands of the genre. The album has more in common with Surfer Rosa than Geneva, Skinny Fists or Mogwai’s Young Team, but Stuart Braithwaite has spoken of the record in revered tones, (“it’s unlike anything I’ve heard before”).
Whether viewed as a love letter to a select subgenre of post-punk angst records, or as its own twisted ode to the genre, Jisie No Ku – debut recording of Krakow’s Mothers In Furs – is an incredibly rewarding and engaging listen. It’s rare that album’s influences will impose themselves so heavily on the first listen but Jisie No Ku, vividly brings to mind the aforementioned works of ATD-I and Slint. The three-piece rarely veers into obnoxious imitation though, allusions are there and distinct but not to the detriment of the music.
Mothers in Furs are comprised of Kaczor (drums), Krzy Wski (bass) and Ohm (vocals & guitar), a three person collective who do well to create a dense and engaging piece of work. The group endeavors to recall their influences while remaining obscured, playing the game by their own rules. The handle of the band brings to mind Velvet Underground’s sleazy ode to underworld sex ‘Venus in Furs’. Whether deliberate or not, the music on their record bears resemblance to the influential sixties group’s more grimey recordings, most notably one of their most popular tracks ‘Venus in Furs’ itself. In contrast to this, the title of the record, Jisie No Ku, is a reference to a genre of Japanese poetry revolving around death. As with the music, a very obscure and interesting reference, one that encourages the audience to delve deeper.
Traipsing its way through a muddy landscape, a rolling drum beat reminiscent of U2’s ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’ opens the record’s high point, ‘The Land of Dreams’. Guest vocalist Matyka’s enigmatic, unpolished vocals combine with the crunching fuzz of Ohm’s guitarwork to create a spectacular & eerie track, evoking the wandering dread of Slint. While Jisie No Ku never quite reaches the highs, nor plunges to the depths of Spiderland, Mothers in Furs have created something very reminiscent, envoking eerie ambient passages, broken only with discordant wails & off kilter riffs. Throughout the record, there are childlike-singing passages & awkward vocal stutterings which only further unsettle the listener.
In attempting to create a formless fog of industrial tinged alt-rock, Mothers in Furs may have sacrificed something in the dynamics of their five track recording. While it never quite gets tedious, every song features an extended break of instrumental emptiness, normally in the form of a protracted outro. This allows the songs to melt into one another but at the risk of leaving the listener without a strong impression of highs and lows, which songs resonated and which didn’t. The record could benefit from a little hard-nosed editing to curb the more lethargic moments. Far too much of the brilliantly titled ‘Why Wasn’t I Born With a Different Face?’ dwells on formless segues, though the Pixies-esque vocal towards the end slightly redeems the noodling.
The EP doesn’t outstay its welcome though & gives the impression that they have a lot more to offer. That’s a very pleasing thought given how original and uncompromising they appear to be. Jisie No Ku serves as a hazy yet alluring indication that the band have it in their capacity to create something genre defining. My breath is bated.