Artist : Liberez
Title : All Tense Now Lax
Format : Album
Label : Night School Records
Release Date : 24th July 2015
Liberez is British experimental industrial project from Southend-on-Sea. This is their fourth release being preceded by an untitled CDr from 2005 and two full lengths, The Letter in 2011, and Sane Men Surround in 2013.
There is an impressive array of different sounds across the nine tracks which remind me of, in equal parts, early Cabaret Voltaire, This Heat, Severed Heads, Throbbing Gristle, Coil and other bands of that ilk. It is abstract, experimental, ambient, brittle, glitchy, and evocative. Various instruments, including guitars, violins, percussion and electronics weave complex patterns to create a rich listening experience. Field recordings and half heard vocals make up a complex, laminal, sound.
Formed in 2003 by recording engineer John Hannon and long term musical collaborator Pete Wilkins, Liberez took their name from the cover art of a French bootleg MC5 7” which demanded ‘Liberez Wayne Kramer!,’ who was incarcerated at the time of release. This early line up (also including Mick Cain on saxophone and Kevin Hutchins on bass) recorded and self-released three CD-r albums in an improvised/montage noise rock style, Liberez 1, Liberez 2 and Paint the Light Black. In 2010, Cumbria-based multi-instrumentalist Tom James Scott met Hannon at the latter’s No Recording Studio in Essex, and soon after relocated to join the Liberez fold, his expansive style and use of space and field recordings bringing about a new direction. Close friend Nina Bosnic was brought in to the line-up on vocals, and consequent recordings based on Bosnic’s texts became the first official Liberez record, The Letter, a vinyl only release on Luke Younger’s (aka Helm) label, Alter.
Up until this point Liberez’s live appearances were seldom, but the four set out to play more live shows outside of their locality. Through connections made in Hannon’s studio, they were able to travel to France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Hungary, Lithuania, Belgium etc while keeping a low public profile. The next record, Sane Men Surround (Savory Days, Alter), incorporated numerous influences from eastern European folk traditions and genres, such as Greek rembetika, Jewish klezmer, and Bosniak sevdah, the music of Bosnic’s hometown Mostar. Scott relocated back to Barrow-in-Furness to focus on his own music, and the line-up proceeded to continue as a three piece, resulting in All Tense Now Lax.
Continuing the blend of folk and drone styles, harsh glitching electronic beats, and 9/4 and 7/8 time signatures with an added emphasis of violin textures, All Tense Now Lax is thematically focused on time, distance, and family connections. The tracks “—Of Blood” and “— Of Milk” are in reference to the heritage of both mother and father, embracing the album’s beginning and ending in their dark, cyclical melodies. The title track is a sombre linear journal of the experiences of Hannon’s father, whom during this period suffered a near fatal head injury, and subsequently spent 18 months in institutional rehabilitation. “Захвална породица” has its origins in the Cyrillic inscription on Bosnic’s grandfather’s headstone, while ‘How Much For Your Brother” is derived from a cut up tape of Bosnic’s first words spoken in English, recorded by her parents when she arrived in England from Bosnia in the early 90’s. “Stop Your Breathing” rolls in on ominous static, and is indicative of a terrible nightmare relived by Bosnic, where she plays out murderous impulses against an unsettling backdrop of ambiguous sonic plumes.
Music of this type can either be tedious and pretentious or, genuinely ground-breaking, this release falls into the latter camp, offering a broad span of impressions from the intense to the reflective. It does not fit neatly into any genre description other than widely being described as experimental. I’ve listened to a lot of music of this type and I can honestly say this is one of the more accomplished and innovative examples of the form.
Many thanks to Lauren at Rarely Unable for providing additional information on the group.
Pending the release of the new album you can access its’ predecessor here: