Ora Iso - Image Certifies LP
Regis's Downwards label presents an album of heavy-hearted industrial songs from Ora Iso, making a kind of windswept, slowed-down, and gothic pop variant that's essential listening if you're into HTRK, Tropic Of Cancer, or Clay Rendering. Ora Iso are an NYC-hailing band revolving around Indonesian-Australian, Kathleen Malay and New Yorker, Jason Kudo. Building on the rubbly ground of their Bathcat debut for Ba Da Bing! (2014), the duo's mutual sense of entropy and ennui results in a classically scorched sound in Image Certifies, one laced with scornful sarcasm and a general dissatisfaction with the world, and yet somehow bolstered by the slightest promise of hope. Weighing in their heavy, bleeding hearts on ten brittle dirges described by the band as "A love letter to a society dying of its own self-induced cancers", Ora Iso play to Downwards' most maudlin aspects with a sound that clearly resonates with their previous releases by Eyeless In Gaza or Tropic Of Cancer, but here blessed with a strung-out, unyielding, and lugubrious quality they can surely call their own. As will become patently obvious, Image Certifies is not a record that takes itself lightly, and when the mood is right, the blend of Kathleen Malay's stark, cracked, gothic vocals with Jason's Kudo's cranky as hell Vainio-esque instrumental backdrops is a perfect accompaniment to moments of introspection and misanthropy. From almost BM-styled beginnings on "No Fish", their agenda becomes apparent as it grows into a slow rolling fog of distant, evocative vocals wailing worn-out nothings about "the future" and "the children" in an effortlessly sensuous and blank-eyed style that worms through the record, peaking in highlights such as the jagged "Dead Riot", and the folksier trudge of "Pour It On Me", whilst the bollocked drums of "From The Hallway To The Door" and the exquisitely succinct "Have I Gone Too Far?" packs a more gothic electronic crunch recalling NIN or Clay Rendering.