This Septic Isle is the new four track EP from London-based alternative country four-piece Shattercones.
By Graeme Smith
Feature Photo by Brian Edwards
This Septic Isle starts with a lonesome strummed guitar, feeling almost like the soundtrack to a spaghetti western. As the opening track Ghoul Driver progresses though, it becomes expansive, with mourning strings and echoing guitar. The long, slow-building instrumental sequence sets the tone for what is to come. At this point in the EP, I wasn’t sure what it would be, but I knew it was going to be good.
Gruff, melancholic vocals entered and the lyrical story begins. It’s a nihilistic one, a call out of modern day England, a damning assessment of its political situation and an ironic plead for things to go back to “how they used to be.” At nearly seven minutes, Ghoul Driver is an ambitious treatise. Though it risks putting off listeners, the authenticity of its delivery and its sonic soundscape has the opposite effect. I, for one, wanted to hear more.
Shattercones describe This Septic Isle as “a cry of political despair and frustration” and it certainly fits the billing. Track two Say Goodbye stylistically moves from western to Latin romanticism but the tone remains the same. There are hints of The Doors, in particular The Crystal Ship and Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar).
Previously released single Butterfly Room comes next. The guys set aside their traditional elements for in-your-face post-punk. There is a cacophony of conflicting voices and the anger is at its most visceral here. It’s an uncomfortable listen, but it’s mean to be, and it’s an important one.
A jarring ending moves straight into the tracks counterpoint, the slow burning, jagged The Man Who Ate Capitalism. The EP’s final movement, it doesn’t waste it’s moment reinforcing the record’s themes. All the while, it’s Shattercones at their most experimental. There is a return of Western America sound and I was reminded a little of early Modest Mouse in their darker moments.
This Septic Isle is such an interesting EP with so much to say. The juxtaposition of a very English story told with a very not-English soundtrack works well – as if to suggest that if we were to leave our country and look back at it from the outside, we wouldn’t recognise it. It’s a great release from a band that surely deserve more attention than they’re getting. Hopefully this EP will prove the catalyst.
Check out This Septic Isle below.