Spectres / The Naturals – “Lump” b/w “Heat Death”

Spectres - "Lump" b/w The Naturals - "Heat Death"

Spectres – “Lump” b/w The Naturals – “Heat Death”

It’s been a healthily busy year for Bristol’s still fledgling home-based Howling Owl Records.  Having already delivered the blistering expansive Hunger EP from Spectres, the highly-desirable Music Is Dead Vol. 1 compilation EP for Record Store Day and the first album from justifiably lauded lo-fi dream-pop craftsman Oliver Wilde, it might be expected that some downtime was needed.  However, with a barely a pause for breath, here comes another imaginatively-packaged limited edition release, in the shape of a split-single drawing together the aforementioned Spectres and likeminded labelmates The Naturals.

With both bands currently chiselling away at debut albums, this standalone affair is designed to gather-up some work-in-progress chippings, to tide followers over until the full-bodied sonic sculptures are completed.  Accelerating the confidence-building momentum gathered on the Hunger EP, Spectres are inevitably the biggest draw here.  Continuing to explore the noise-rock spectrum between Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex and Swervedriver’s Raise, the foursome use the aptly-named “Lump” to pummel their hardest live-centric side into a studio setting.  With nauseous yet rapturous guitar scree and a thuggish rhythmic undertow, “Lump” sizzles with stage-fried amp abuse and almost drips sweat through the speakers.  Whether its intensity could or should be sustained across a whole long-player is unclear but taken in isolation it’s brutally addictive.

On the flipside, The Naturals’ muse takes a significantly more obtuse turn.  With a vocalist sounding like Alex Kapranos sinking in quicksand, thick stewed bass lines, jagged six-string clang redolent of First Edition to Flowers Of Romance-era Public Image Ltd. and assorted added instrumental layers, “Heat Death” is far more about heavy mood-conjuring than melody-skewering, in comparison to Spectres’ more direct offering.  Whilst “Heat Death” is not such an instant attraction as “Lump,” it does suggest that The Naturals have an interesting vision, even if it’s yet to come into full focus.

In a short run of only 100 vinyl 10” copies, this single is destined to disappear before the ink is dry on its sleeve, so it’s well worth acting fast to grab one for the Howling Owl section of your record collection.

Howling Owl Records