Band Line Up:
Ask Ty Arctander
1. black wandering sun
3. the stranger
4. from fire, from stone
Krakow originate from Bergen in Norway, (not Poland as the name might suggest), and the quartet have been together 13 years. ‘Minus’ is said to be the product of a year’s work of recording at Duper and Solslottet studios in Bergen, and is a combination of the six best tracks from two albums worth of songs. That can only make me glad they decided against the rest of it. Their 11th CD offering since they began, this is certainly a prolific band. The collection of songs explore several themes including hidden worlds and space travel, and while the lyrics are steeped in Scandinavian traditions of storytelling, the music holds none of the majesty that normally exudes from Norwegian bands. The band defy genre, but not in a good creative way, more in a lost looking for a direction form.
The songs are dark, energy zapping, dismal and depressing, the vocals muddy and uninspiring. The guitars are mundane and heavily distorted, and lack melody and rhythm. The only plus is that at least there are only six tracks to wade through.
The album opens with ‘Black Wandering Sun’ which features a guitar solo from Motorhead’s Phil Cambell, but even that cannot save the track. There is a school of thought in music that suggests the space between notes is just as important as the notes themselves. Here Krakow have chosen to not give any space. The music is crammed full of pointless noise, it’s lacking in direction, melody and harmony. Any voids are filled with crashes and drones, so the tunes are lost amongst a cacophony of sound. The following track, ‘Sirens’ is misery itself, at times I am not sure all the players are on the same song. The different musical parts don’t match up together, or at least not all at the same time. With ‘The Stranger’, they take a more mystical stance, it drifts meaninglessly in a slow decay, devoid of energy or fire, lacking in passion or excitement. What’s more, it goes on and on and is over long and tedious.
Equally dreary, ‘From Fire, From Stone’ thuds along, the vocals lack tone, the droning guitars drain the life from the song and the drums fail to deliver any drive. The title track comes next, ‘Minus’ is the worst one yet, featureless, it cannot even grab the attention enough to keep interest throughout, with instrumental segments that are the equivalent of traffic cones on the M6. At 9 minutes 44 seconds, this feels like the roadworks on the M6 too, never ending. Finally we reach ‘Tidlaus’ by which time I have given up hope and the thought of another 7 minutes of this drivel is unbearable, not only are we in the roadworks on the M6 but there has been a crash and we’ve run out of petrol.
Overall this is an EP with no finesse, no polish, no light & shade, it is merely distortion and noise, with songs so bland and unimaginative that you have almost forgotten them before each track has finished. They don’t even grow on you after several listens. There may be those out there who love this work, and while I understand that some bands may not be my cup of tea musically, I can appreciate quality in that which is not to my liking. I find nothing of quality here though and nothing to recommend to the listener, one to avoid.
Review By Lisa Nash