Graveyard Tapes: Our Sound Is Our Wound
Though Euan McMeeken (vocals, piano) and Matthew Collings (guitar, laptop, percussion) bring different sensibilities and backgrounds to their Graveyard Tapes collaboration, the album material benefits and so, too, does the listener. McMeeken fronts The Kays Lavelle, issues solo piano work under the glacis moniker, and oversees the independent label mini50 records; Collings, on the other hand, has worked with Dag Rosenqvist and Talvihorros and recently released his first solo album under his real name, Splintered Instruments, on Fluid Audio. The combination of McMeeken's heartfelt singing and piano playing and Collings electronic and guitar colourations makes for a compelling thirty-eight-minute listen.
“Gravebell,” a miniature drone-styled overture of bell tones, strings, and electronic alchemy, establishes a suitably experimental and explorative mood, but it's the album's first proper song, “Bloodridge,” that proves more affecting. For want of a better description, it's a ballad of particularly mournful character that's as heavy on electronic atmosphere as it is piano and McMeeken's soul-baring vocalizing. The lines “I'm sitting under a blood bridge / Waiting on an answer” grow to be as haunting as the sparse piano chords, especially when repeated throughout the song. The song's plaintive tone and naked expression of emotion, desperation even, suggests that the Our Sound Is Our Wound title was chosen for good reason.
McMeeken's tremulous voice similarly elevates “Insomniac Dawn,” though the arrangement, rich with percussion, piano, and dulcimer-like accents, proves to be as ear-catching, while the dirge “Memorials” is as funereal as might be expected. In contrast to the downcast mood of “Bloodridge,” “Hunting For Statues” opts for guitar-fueled euphoria heavy on harmonic uplift and celebratory spirit, while “Gravebat” is a different beast altogether, a dark and queasy nightscape that weaves thick masses of horns and clarinets in amongst its disturbed scene-painting and muted vocals. After a string of five vocal tracks, the percussion-heavy instrumental title track provides an appealing break, especially when its wealth of disparate electro-acoustic sounds proves to be so richly evocative.
Admittedly, it's hard not to be reminded of Radiohead in Graveyard Tapes' like-minded attempt to integrate song-based vocal structures and experimental music; echoes of Thom Yorke's vocal style also emerge in McMeeken's delivery during the album-closing “Wolves.” But perhaps not too much should be made of the influence: it would be hard to imagine any group born after 2000 being able to sidestep the considerable shadow cast by OK Computer and Kid A.
As satisfying as the album material itself is, mention must be made of Our Sound Is Our Wound's presentation. Lost Tribe Sound has outdone itself in this case, with the CD housed within a concertina book-styled design that sees its front and back covers connected via accordion-styled inner panels (featuring artwork by Jamie Mills) and accompanied by a fold-out mini-poster that displays lyrics on one side and the cover illustration on the other. In additon to the digital version, two physical editions of different quality are available, one super-limited (twenty copies) and the other limited (ninety copies).