|THE SCARAMANAGA SIX to release new Steve Albini-produced album on April 1st|
|Thursday, 24 January 2013 19:51|
The Scaramanga Six are arguably one of the most prolific and unique underground rock bands in the UK. The group have their home in the gloomy Yorkshire town of Huddersfield and are based around the dual tyranny of twin brothers Paul & Steven Morricone with Julia Arnez on guitars and Gareth Champion on the traps. A self-styled ‘evil version of a pop group’, the band’s trademarks are a mish-mash of finely crafted melodies, guttural howls, soaring croons, abrasive & punky arrangements, encyclopaedic musical references and dark subject matter, all delivered with ferocious self-confidence.
They exist somewhere between the malevolent grit of The Stranglers in their prime and the existential melodrama of Scott Walker, if you can imagine that.
You’ve probably never heard of them, but this band have been ploughing their own truly independent, scenester-defying furrow since the late '90s, relentlessly leaving a trail of bemused gig-goers behind with incendiary live rock rituals, whilst carving a legacy through a series of mind-flaying recordings all released through their own label, Wrath Records.
Self-release is a key tool for creativity these days it seems, but these guys have been doing it for well over a decade.
For this, their seventh studio album, The Scaramanga Six decided to make an ambitious pilgrimage to Chicago, Illinois to record with the best engineer in the world, Mr Steve Albini (Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey, The Stooges, Shellac etc etc) in his own Electrical Audio studio. To get that authentic ‘Albini sound’, the recordings were all done completely live with minimal overdubs onto 2” tape using all analogue equipment and the bare minimum of post-production.
To add further ambition to the project the band decided to bolster their aural assault squad with a second drummer (Stephen Gilchrist) and piano player (Gentleman James Kenosha), making this the first actual 6-piece Scaramanga Six line-up for many years.
Despite the swollen ranks, the resulting recordings are the band’s most spacious, bleak and intense yet with epics such as Surfer Rosa-esque opener ‘I Will Crush Your Heart’ and the heart-wrenching ‘It’s Just a Matter of Time’. The clattering double-drummer fury (particularly evident on tracks like ‘We Are the Blind’ and ‘Twist the Knife’) backs some seriously scratchy guitar parts while the vocals are swathed in the wonderful natural ambience of EA’s studio.
Though originally a reference to grizzly dentistry from an abandoned song, the album title ‘PHANTOM HEAD’ was chosen to summarise an underlying feeling of cold detachment which pervades the subject matter (see ‘The Spider’ for example), however, this schizophrenic collection of tunes may also turn out to be the band’s most accessible album to date, with some strangely arresting pop songs like the tragic description of a cultural assassination ‘They Put You on a Pedestal’.
Phantom Head will be released on 12” Vinyl, CD and digital formats on 1st April by Wrath Records, with distribution through The Genepool.