Salli Lunn – Heresy And Rite

Salli Lunn - Heresy And Rite

“The Frame Of Reference” opens with as rattle of synthetic and a purposeful drumbeat. Over this, plucked bass strings and distant keyboards back some convoluted lyricism: ‘a sketch and a drawing / pronouncing the problem to be redefined’. The bass slows and the song paradoxically takes flight, its mood simultaneously maudlin, neurotic, mildly aggressive and strangely triumphal: Salli Lunn, everybody.

Halfway into the first track on Heresy And Rite and screeching feedback and suddenly more strident rhythms alter the song practically beyond all recognition and this, as the following seven songs will reveal, is where the real skill at the heart of both the album and its creators is found. The second part of “The Frame Of Reference” bears little if any resemblance to the song the track began as, a doom-laden stomp transfigured into a display of hissing pyrotechnics and at nearly seven minutes in length it’s some testimony to the bands abilities as both songwriters and improvisers that the entire number is sustained without loss of either structure or focus, and make comparison with the lengthy epics of Godspeed and Mogwai if you will, but Salli Lunn are attempting to reconfigure the entire notion of instrumental post rock, as with a practised air of compositional innovation they strenuously avoid repetition, taking every opportunity their songs present to expand on their musicianship, and (put this down to experience) keeping these instrumentals relatively brief ie: under ten minutes. A tightly disciplined and oft times draining approach and for the most part, it succeeds.

“Parachutes Forever” utilises a vocal fade-in: when did I last hear one of those? and again a powerful intro gives way to a carefully constructed ballad, one whose vibrophonic chorus lifts its admittedly dark sentiments well beyond mere angst. Joy Division are an audible influence here, but Salli Lunn are very far removed from the school of Curtis Copyists and the double timed drumming and wall-of-noise improv more closely resembles Ride and Fugazi, although by the time ‘Parachutes Forever’ thrashes its last it seems merely lazy journalism to make obvious comparisons. There is a lot going on here, with Salli Lunn doing everything they can to twist their material beyond its original forms, and while this can mean shedding the actual song at a point where a lot of bands would add another verse and two choruses, it also leads into studio jamming of near stroboscopic intensities. Predictable it isn’t, and while it might seem that the band threaten to overstretch their abilities when turning their songs inside out and adding cataclysmic waves of effects generated powerchords and thunderous rhythmic arpeggios, the quartet are sufficiently adept to avoid repeating themsleves at any point.

“Mirror Girl” is a funk riff stretched past its limits but when it seems ready to break the pace slackens to allow the tune to take the weight of the bass and drumming, and it’s also the song that has the band playing at their most accomplished, avoiding weighting the track too heavily with percussion as the guitars interweave in a multitude of directions and time signatures, and while shorter tracks such as ‘Belongings’ and Birthmark’ are every bit as inventive and structurally complex as the other longer pieces, Salli Lunn do sound more at ease when they take things over the five minute mark as they do with album closer “The First Course” which, while it drifts haphazardly between math rock and dreampop is slowly built into a frenetic mass of powerchords that defy any attempt at categorization, and the fade out only sounds like the lead into another, non existent tenth track.

Salli Lunn have gone well out of their way to produce a record that has both the noticeable hallmarks of their influences and still manages to sound an entirely original work, and in this they’ve more than achieved their aim. Anyone wanting to hear a purposeful and imaginative rock album will find very little fault with Heresy And Rite, which while it openly references any number of influential and well known bands of the last three decades also has the defining qualities of an album very much of the present moment. And it’s loud, very loud indeed.

Hidden Shoal Recordings