REI, OLO Worms, Taos Humm & Giant Swan – Sink EP

Sink EP

Sink EP

Before we try to put the genie of Record Store Day back in its bottle for another year, another release from the event is certainly worthy of documentation.  Following directly on from 2012 and 2013’s respective 12” compilation EPs, Bristol’s Howling Owl Records delivers another imaginatively-packaged four-track vinyl collection.  Bravely eschewing the inclusion of the label’s current leading lights this time around – namely indefatigable noise-rockers Spectres and rising dream-pop craftsman Oliver Wilde – in favour of four artists new to the label, Sink opens up a whole extra dimension in the Howling Owl world.

Sequenced very much as a cohesive ebbing-flowing piece, the EP finds its contributors connected within a meditative nocturnal ambience.  Reinforcing this sense of thematic structure are two bookend-like and largely instrumental cuts from REI (a side-project of Vessel’s Sebastian Gainsborough) and Giant Swan (an off-shoot of The Naturals), that both intriguingly explore clanking slow-mo mechanical electronica which would sit well with dank art-house films or Nordic crime dramas.

Sink EP - unpacked

Sink EP – unpacked

Sandwiched in-between the REI and Giant Swan’s mood-framing pieces are two more song-based entries.  The first of which comes from the recently reawakened OLO Worms.  Refining some of the group’s esoteric ways in favour of something a little less eccentric but far from straightforward, the obliquely anointed “ICE ESC” gratifyingly dances with the ghosts of prime-time Factory Records; funnelling the loose-fit rhythms of The Happy Mondays, the pathos-laden side of early-New Order and the globalist-skronk of A Certain Ratio into a remarkably infectious dark-grooved art-pop pleasure.  Equally as essential – and as oddly-titled – is “OXT” from newcomers Taos Humm, whose low-slung guitar-led psyche-noire possesses a plaintive touch that may be a little tentative but shows the potential to grow into something special with the right encouragement.

With only 100 copies in circulation, this split-EP is destined to become another cult-building Howling Owl nugget that will no doubt help to extend the label’s reach in multiple directions.

Howling Owl Records