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Music Review: Salli Lunn – Heresy & Rite

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Today Eurorock is off, albeit via the interweb, to Frederikshavn on the Danish coast to have a listen to spectral noise-rock quartet Salli Lunn.

The reason is that their long awaited debut album Heresy & Rite, on Australia’s Hidden Shoal label, has been receiving a lot of enthusiastic attention. The band which formed in 2001 includes members of The Late Parade, Death By Kite, and Amber.

Having found the space to concentrate on the Salli Lunn project they have delivered a debut that is alive with creative individuality. There is a deceptive precision to this work which is further enhanced by Jonas Munk’s expert production.

Heresy & Rite unravels a web of creative ideas. It is akin in many ways to a complex building project where the completed floorplan can only be guessed at before finally appearing as fully operational labyrinth of organised space.

If that sounds somewhat clumsily and far fetched then a listen to this 45 minute, eight track, album is well advised. Its complexity challenges definition with tracks that are often built on a simple, yet compelling, platform upon which is added building blocks of texture and unexpected twists and turns to deliver a totally intriguing end result.

Chiming guitars over the ever shifting, twisting, pulsing, and impressive drumming of Line Gronbech help create a maze of possible directions which prove impossible to second guess.

Some simple, yet memorable pop fuelled melody gives way, in wanton acts of deconstruction, to dark layers, unsettling atmosphere, and a myriad of alternatives.

On the one hand the album is expertly crafted with a machine like precision. Yet on the other it sometimes melts into near free form territory before rebuilding the blocks to revisit its original theme. All of this underpins Lasse Skjold Bertelsen’s compelling and distinctive vocal presence which is a combination of distantly semi automated, sometimes unnerving, and yet always engaging.

Sudden drops in tempo arrive like an unanticipated slammed door. From there Salli Lunn pick up the resulting fragments and swiftly reassembles them whilst demanding the listeners concentration.

That chiming guitar, meandering bass, bewildering shifts of direction, sit side by side with pulsing, spiked, and stripped down patterns that form around the English language lyrics.

A fine example of this arrives with “Fast Cars, Clean Bodies”, which at seven and a half minutes is the longest track on the album. Introduced with a stripped down simplicity it weaves a hypnotic web of irregular patterns before the sudden drama of a crushing doom sequence that is as unexpected as it is dramatic.

From there the pieces are again reconstructed before evolving into a spaced out crescendo which ultimately dissolves into a far away siren call. “Mirror Girl” fights against its declaration of love lyrics to produce an irregular, jarringly unsettling and unpredictable track. Again the clever bass and drumming provide the all essential life jacket platform.

“Belongings” takes many a side step whilst exploring the dark versus light themes that arrive with solid, angular shifts. “Birthmark” sears into the subconscious whilst introducing a menacingly disturbing atmosphere.

It’s cleverly unsettling vibe pushes open a door that leads to the final track “The First Cause”. Its length allows for plenty of dismantling and reintroduction of recurring themes. It demands volume and careful attention to its layered detail. It builds into a memorable finale that fittingly closes an intriguing album that sees Salli Lunn delving into dynamic and sometimes brave territory.

Heresy & Rite is available on Hidden Shoal, a label that had New York radio host DJ Mojo describing them as “this generations 4AD”. Back home in Denmark the album can be found via Duck On The Walk Records.

Visit the band on their English language MySpace page.

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