Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Cranes

Wings Of Joy Forever
Cherry Red

Named for the not-so eloquent cranes littering the mid-eighties skyline of their native Portsmouth, siblings Jim and Alison Shaw created a bleak but intensely beautiful tapestry of enchanting song of a like literally not heard before, since or ever again. Ranging from piano-led watercolours to ugly fragments of torn and terrifying cerebral canvasses like the accused Jack The Ripper artist Walter Sickert and deftly defying categorisation, Alison's indecipherable whisps of lisped lyrics and shards of anguish shimmying through the dervish dirges like sirens luring you beneath gilded lilies caused as much bemused malice as they did fervent admiration upon their initial release. No doubt these reissues will do likewise but these are swirling waters worth plunging into, drowning in even, to find the stillness at the other side. Guitars scrape, maybe mirroring the mechanical creak of those cranes, but actually seem to be extracting aural DNA from your marrow and reconstructing the structures of your soul, pianos may ripple but any real tranquillity is subsumed in their tendril-like clasp.   Oddly medieval at times in atmosphere, far more sinister than maudlin or morose despite sometimes sounding like aural unravellings and descents into despair, cathartic trance-dances, seances and witch-trials spring forth like from the unlawful opening of a sacred ancient text wrapped in the billowing folds of a peasant girls garb, while an unholy dread tension holds sway in every pounding beat, resembling the wretched heartbreak of a bereaved Victorian heroine or the tremulous step along unhallowed hallways, whether of silent film or sadistic psychosis.

Both come with a veritable slew n' slurry of bonus tracks from non-album releases, and are both transcendental, completely captivating and in full debut WINGS...an essential-ness of a rare (dis)order by virtue of having the unutterably stunning singlesTomorrow's Tears and Adoration along with the absolutely freefalling death drive torment of Sixth Of May. FOREVER, being slightly less sprawling, with an eastern, desert wind feel to it shows a discernible, though not detrimental, influence of their time touring as support to The Cure (see adorable single Jewel), following that debut. No one's saying you have to swim the same deep waters but this is truly music from somewhere beneath the air, as Yeats and Blake may have had it.

- Stu Gibson

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