This was never just going to be just another Dead Sea Apes album, not that you ever get “just another” Dead Sea Apes album, but this time it felt different. This time there was no Nick Harris whose twisting bass lines have been such a huge part to the DSA sound. It also felt like that a line had been drawn in the sand. Their last album ‘Recondite’ collected together various odds and sod from hard to find compilation releases, saving people like me an absolute fortune. No, whatever this album was going to be it was never going to be “just another” DSA album for better or for worse this was going to be a new beginning and as I’m a bit of a fanboy this made me a bit apprehensive, sad but alas true.
I drop the needle and settle down with me brew and opener ‘Inside of Me’ kicks in, I make a strange noise that is somewhere between a cough, a choke and a splutter. I instantly get up and tried again, this time there will be no tea, no sitting, just staring a the turntable. A chiming guitar and then blam! Not an Adam Stone spoken word but a full on vocal. It’s Early Joy Division, it’s PiL no wait it’s, it’s, well it’s a snarling two and half minute punktastic ramalama. In true John Peel fashion I play it not once, not twice but three bloody times and it’s only after the third play I let the album play on.
The wonderful thing about the second track (Reduced To Zero) is that I feel like I’m back on familiar territory because stylistically this walks the same celestial path as previous Adam Stone collaborations but this time there is a more confidant delivery which ratchets up the tension ten fold. The music may help you drift above the Earth but Mr Stone is going to make sure you look down on the mayhem below. As ‘Retreat To Your Bunker’ builds on drones and Adam Stone’s barked warnings, it is worth pointing out that all of this happens around Chris Hardman’s solid and ever reliable beats, underpinning and giving form to the chaos that surrounds it. If the last two tracks took us to the top of the roller coaster, then ‘Doing What You Want’ sends us hurtling down through all the twists and turns that a psych/punk track can deliver in just shy of four minutes.
As ‘Broken In Two’ pulses its way into a ‘Can’ like existence and builds into some kind of dystopian nightmarish soundtrack to a post Brexit Britain. Adam Stone uses the refrain ” the good days are gone”, leving me thinking “stick that on your fucking bus Boris!”. The monster riffage that is “Yes No” see’s guitarist Brett Savage channel his inner Sabbath. My first thoughts were that Adam Stone was channeling his inner teenage punk, but on reflection and after repeated listens I have come to the conclusion that maybe he is holding a mirror up to the nations psyche, stay with me on this. “Yes, No” are the two words that have divided Britain, “Yes, No” two words that have ended friendly political discourse, “Yes, No” two words that could topple our political establishment or a least reshape it. Maybe I’m reading too much into it but with Stone’s repeated “I’m so confused” refrain it certainly feels that way to me. John Lennon may have gave us hope with his song “Power To The People”, but give the same title to Adam Stone and he delivers a sardonic poem of hopelessness and dry wit over a bleak and minimalist soundscape.
Dead Sea Apes are masters of creating paranoid cinematic soundtracks and for me have created some the best music in recent times. I feel that Adam Stone has added texture and depth and a focal point. This album has taken a brave leap into the unknown, it’s jumped down the rabbit hole and shown a bravery that we (and I do) should applaud. . With previous albums the listener has had to create their own scenarios, with Stone on board the outlines are sketched leaving you to fill the rest of the picture and it seems a bleak picture at that. Jelly and Ice cream anyone?