Sunday, May 5, 2013

Canis - A Good Solid Flesh Crime (1997)

Formed in Kingsland, Auckland during a police raid, Canis are a hybrid of 80s, swamp blues, various distortion noises and general sludgy sounds. They practised in a converted bank space (it kinda sounds like this album may have been recorded in it) and brought forth a sound that is akin to Nick Cave in his most under-produced and sludgy, with a touch of industrial metal thrown into the mix. Having listened to Cop Shoot Cop a couple of weeks ago, I would have to say they have a similar vibe.

The cover is quite macabre, depicting a slab of meat strapped to a cross with barbed wire. There are some pretty purple flowers as well, though. On the back cover, a crucified bird hangs.

The album opens with the slow "Womb of the World" with spoken vocals and heavy, slow, ponderous bass line. Achingly borderline industrial, surging hollow drum beats, raw and raucous. Swampy and sludgy. Like metal rusting, dripping with corrossion.

Faster drums, very bassy. The "Seventeenth Century Heaven Death-Head" has low vocals reminscient of early Nick Cave.
"Oh can you slow dance, baby, hung from that tree?"
A hollow drumroll and screeching, stretching guiars ushers us into "Blackslider" with its achingly low and slow vocals, barely mixed above the music.Sighing and growning into guttural harmonies. Ominous, eerie.

Faster but gently ominous, it is time to meet "Jack Hammer Red" - a simple piece that builds from the soft and gentle, louder, louder, aggression, like a jack hammer.

A bit of a slow start to "Arcane World". Low, threatening, like a predator peeking over the bushes, waiting its chance to strike. Then it does, vocals are low, with a good pace to them.

"All Hail (the raving soul)" starts with iron hands clapping, and a rolling barrel kinda rhythm.  Definite Birthday Party feel here. I can almost imagine a metal drum, in which flames and smoke dance forth, swirling through the air, whilst around it dance semi-clad, blood stained hunters, calling upon some sort of arcane deity.

Distortion and more trebly-laced bass, whining metal, the beating of hollow skins. "Cold Hard Sell" is fury entwined with despair.

Low, sludgy, swampy rock - "Kindred" is bleak and  nihilistic. Rolling drums, churning guitars wading through the gloom:
"Children beg your father not to have another son like this one..."
The tempo picks up a notch into the downtrodden lounge feel of "Black Water Janitor". I can actually see the vocalist in his suit and tie, sunglasses, singing in a nightclub - but the sort of nightclub that caters to the downtrodden, the broken, the lost and the forgotten.

This next track, "Daddy God" is apparently reorded on a shitty stereo at Basque Rd. It certainly has an unhealthy level of sludge and distortion. The vocals are quite strong, very angry; spoken more than sung. The backing music distorting and twisting like some sort of out of control machinery.

Hauntingly area, crawling feedback, drums chipping in. Guitars drawl along. Vocals low, snarling their way through "Blood River". Whining instruments, slightly discordent. Creepy, unsettling lyrics.
"Red river, red river run red..."
This song is sharp and subtle as a razor blade.

It has taken several repeated listens, but this album is starting to grow on me. The sludgy NZ under-produced sound has been eliminated from modern music, but here it is king. The low churning swampy sludge lends a grit and authenticity. It could well be recorded in a disused bank vault - but a portion of it is in fact recorded live in studios (which I think means the whole band perform together, instead of individually and it being mixed?). Like CSC, this is industrial sludge, sort of a modern-day steampunk* filled with dark vibes, low (but surprisingly powerful and well mixed) vocals and overall, a decent album. It makes me curious to try out their other album, which apparently has jazz influences. Might be a little more upbeat!

I'm going to rate it 6.5/10.

* that is probably an oxymoron.

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