Mick Harris / Martyn Bates - Murder Ballads (Drift) 2xLP


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Label: Sub Rosa

Marbled vinyl edition.

For the first time on vinyl, the post-isolationist, deep ambiance and folksong classic Murder Ballads (Drift) by Mick Harris/Martyn Bates, originally released in 1994. Rarely do two types of music meet on a level where they threaten to cancel each other out – let alone create something even more meaningful in their mutual vanishing. But the music created within the seminal Murder Ballads (Drift) by Martyn Bates (Eyeless in Gaza) and Mick Harris (Napalm Death, Lull, Painkiller, Scorn) creates just such a world. Murder Ballads (Drift) evolves Martyn Bates vocalizations/storytelling song-voices, by turns expressed as labyrinthine layers, calls and responses, muted and distant echoes, sung whispers and counter-melodies, ultimately resulting in a mesmeric conversation of musical inferences and correspondences.

Murder Ballads (Drift) created the post-isolationist frame of reference, innovating and extemporizing into a truly original dazzlingly unique form. Mick Harris traffics in the isolationist ambience of Lull, while Martyn Bates is the emotive voice of literate cult-pop duo Eyeless in Gaza. The unlikely pair – one given to terminally frigid drone, the other to impassioned, bittersweet voicings – finds common ground in folk music's most macabre tradition, the murder ballad. These ghoulish parables are awash in blood and tears, the strands of love, hate, birth, death, sin, and salvation entwined within like the roots of an ancient tree. Mothers callously kill their children; suitors slay their maidens without remorse; and fate exacts its cruel price from all. The archaic murder ballads that leak from Bates' vocal cords are intensely sad and carnal. They tend to leap off cliffs of hollow effects or drone darkly, offering neither a robust delivery nor an element of irony to take the edge off. The archetypal characters that live and die in them give life's full tragedy back to Harris' electronically numbed "post-isolationist" dreaming. Drift plays out an unbreakable and timeless cycle of bloody folklore (people) and hypnotic soundscapes (the god who watches).