Review: Raspberry Bulbs “Before The Age Of Mirrors” [Relapse Records]

Review: Raspberry Bulbs “Before The Age Of Mirrors” [Relapse Records]

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When a band states that plays Punk/Black Metal, it sounds great: aggression, misanthropy, nonconformity and nihilism, which sometimes are carefully hidden inside, break out in a music form. According to the press-release, Americans Raspberry Bulbs play this mix since 2009, adding some Lovecraft based fears and nightmares. Now after long six-years break the band release their new album Before The Age Of Mirrors.

Initially Raspberry Bulbs was an M. Del Rio’s (Bone Awl) solo project but gradually became a full band. Nick Forte from Rorschach and Jim Ning Nong are also play in the band now.

Raspberry Bulbs positioning themselves as a totally underground and fundamentally DIY band, emphasizing it with everything, from the record to covers’ design. I really like this markedly sloppy artwork with badly xeroxed art on a pink background: it really gains attention and summon some nostalgia for pre-internet era zines.

But things aren’t going so well when we get to the music and I actually don’t know where to start. First of all it’s a discrepancy to a proper definition. If we got only low (I’m so gently speaking right now) quality of the record, let’s speak frankly: this is disgustingly recorded Punk. In early “true” lo-fi Black Metal demo tapes was some brute power and blackest misanthropy, which attracted the listener in some magic way despite the raw records and there is nothing of it in Before The Age Of Mirrors. By the way, the lyrics’ aspect, especially accented by the band is also getting lost because of this deliberately lo-fi sound.

Another problem of these songs is not only their primitivism but total predictability. I mean, if you will listen to the music for the 30 seconds, you will get the perception of it and for the remaining three minutes you will just confirm it. There are simple, repetitive patterns, without any diversity and not surprising at all. As a result, the most outstanding here are four interludes (from 12 tracks!): they are musically simple too but atmospheric and fascinating. For the great justice I need to mention the last track “Given Over To History”: it’s also atmospheric and oppressive though it’s simple like the other songs in the album. But this is the only bright spot in Before The Age Of Mirrors.

In fact,  I do not exclude that played live in the relevant environment with appropriate performance this music will work, transforming ostentatiously dirty and raw primitivism of the music to a rigid statement. But it doesn’t happen in a record.

All in all, Before The Age Of Mirrors reminds me the modern art. Many people find unthinkable depths in it and lots of meanings but I mostly see some fussy installations and indistinct stains of paint on the canvas. Perhaps it’s my lack of education, I will not deny it. Or is it about the creator himself?

Before The Age Of Mirrors was released on February, 21 via Relapse Records.

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