Genre: Instrumental Noise Rock
01. Force is a Weapon of the Weak
02. She was the Cutie of Camp Cooke
03. Golden Gate Blues
04. Your Kingdom Falls
05. A Japanese Romance
06. Answer February
07. Who’s Gonna Fill them Shoes?
08. For Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale
09. Night of the Barricade: Paris 1968
10. Repeat until False
11. Running Amok with Knives
12. My Sciatica
13. Overdue Resignation
14. Fault of Domestication
15. The Hanging man is no Peacock
Grey Daturas are a band nearly impossible to pin down. Labeling them as a branch of the noise genre doesn’t do their brand of improvisational music justice. Free rock is a term mentioned on their website that seems to be a bit more accurate but still is far from hitting the nail on the head. Experimental is way too vague of a descriptor and it comes attached to the notion that the sound was some sort of pre-planned attempt at sounding “different.” The band’s sound is very natural and seems to develop itself. There’s definitely a sludge/stoner element in the midst of things as well as maybe an “indie-rock-on-PCP” approach to certain elements. You could maybe think Neurosis stripped bare and turned on its head, spasming. The songs manage to be chaotic without losing direction. There’s a logical progression beneath the tumultuous passages, it’s just the logic that Grey Daturas has invented for themselves. Stuttering drums, amp noises and on-the-fly melodic interjections are all fair game for this Melbourne trio, all tools to further achieve a very unique and unpredictable set of songs (though it may be more accurate to refer to these as jams). No vocals are featured and the inclusion of words would likely yield unfavorable results. The instruments seem to become living extensions of the musicians behind them and speak enough without needing any kind of narration or vocalization.
This particular release is a reissue of Grey Daturas’ second full length album entitled “Dead in the Woods” courtesy of Crucial Blast, originally distributed on the band’s own imprint in late 2004. Housed in a rough-textured digipack adorned with earthy tones, the overall presentation of the release is very well-done, an area where Crucial Blast delivers more than the average label. It seems Grey Daturas’ releases are scattered amongst different labels and formats, difficult to pin down. However, this seems to fit the style of music they perform and it’s evident from the get-go that the best way to understand what they’re trying to do is to witness a live show (something the band makes sure to mention in their bio.) Thankfully they’re giving the world a chance to do just that with extensive touring hitting everywhere from Japan to Alaska in recent months but if you’re nowhere near a Grey Daturas live show you can still get that vibe from this very intimately presented longplayer.
Each song progresses in a somewhat paradoxical manner. The pieces seem repetitive in a hypnotic manner but are constantly evolving in subtle ways until a track’s conclusion takes the music miles away from its initial handful of notes. There aren’t bridges or refrains; the changes are more subtle but also constant. What initially sounds like guitar note hit as a mistake could end up shifting the direction of the song and only fully make sense in context of the entire piece. This helps keep the songs interesting and exciting, playing a swelling sense of tension and anticipation in the listener. A song’s catalyst could be soft waves of ambience from the guitars, it could be a plucked obscure sounding melody, it could be feedback, it could be any kind of drum beat. These seem like snapshots in a perpetually changing liquid body of sound. The bits we hear speak for themselves and let the listener decide what a song means, though he or she should probably focus on how a song feels instead. The songs could be viewed as being strange but realistically this is as natural as music gets. Rock-based instruments being explored to make sounds and the individual players shaping the songs around what sounds are being made instead of composing in an opposite manner. A refreshing listen that exemplifies a technique that many bands employ without fully understanding.