Kurofune is a record with three distinct progressions, each allowing the group to show that they are not afraid to push the margins of rock, ambient soul and electronic music further, and in fact prove that amalgamations are truly best.
The first movement, titled ‘Rain Down On Me’ begins with an overwhelming feeling of urgency, as the vocals and instruments intertwine with desperation. “I’m trying to let you go / rain…rain down on me” the band’s guest vocalist Charlie Bicker sings, accented by wailing violin.
A slow increase in tempo gives the piece a sense of progression as it blends defiantly loud, industrial drumming, tumultuous guitar lines and finally, heavily reverbed melodica, with an undercurrent of blues rhythm. It becomes a cacophony of mislaid vocals and scratchy recordings and one cannot help but wonder if this was exactly how The Black Ships intended it to be.
The ambience carries into the second movement – a purely instrumental track, which builds amidst a chorus of electronic sound effects and transient beats. Yet this is broken in the third track where sampled political jargon is combined with cutting melodies on the electronic violin.
Coming back harder, the bass and snare intensify, as the manipulated recordings cut in and out, echoing and fading into increasingly brooding instrumentals. The Black Ships use a hodgepodge of sounds to create dissension and wild, fanatical confusion in the music, as if to emphasize how suspicious the vocal snippets actually are: “Purposely basing and valuing the currency. […] Prices are a mere reflection of the value of the dollar”.
Kurofune is an intriguing and impressive release from a group who have only been active for a relatively short period of time (forming after the breakup of The Verve in 2009). One that not only communicates their versatility in the studio, but also their ability to write music which highlights the complexities of the life it imitates.
How they use their talent to step out from the shadows of their former bands will be down to how far they can take this direction and sustain it in future incarnations, without getting seduced by the allure of their own celebrity.
Echo Magazine will feature an interview with The Black Ships in our upcoming ‘first edition’ print issue out July 21st.