Norway's late shoegazers
Serena-Maneesh, fronted by guitarist Emil Nikolaisen, debuted with
Serena-Maneesh (Honey Milk, 2005 - Playlouder, 2006).
The manifesto of their project is best summarized by the epic chords and
tribal beat of Drain Cosmetics, a song that blends
My Bloody Valentine's introverted ecstasy and
the Velvet Underground's pulsing neurosis.
Catatonic whispers float over the driving, syncopated gallop of Selina's Melodie Fountain,
at the end of the hypnotic space-rock jam Candlelighted,
in the first half of the seven-minute Sapphire Eyes (before the guitarist
turns it into a display of post-Hendrix vanity),
At the other extreme the aggressive Beehiver II is sung by
brutal, distorted vocals backed by a primitive rhythmic
attack a` la Chrome and guitar distortions
borrowed from Helios Creed's space jams.
The 12-minute disintegration apogee of Your Blood Is Mine grows as it
flows, like a sped-up version of the Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine (and then implodes in a delicate piano melody).
Nikolaisen has a knack for captivating guitar riffs (no matter how dejavu)
that he repeats over and over again coupling them with steady drums.
It's a simple strategy, but it has worked wonders since the day that
Bo Diddley invented it in the 1950s.
S-M Backwards (2008) collects two early EPs,
Fixxations (2002) and Zurueck (2003).
#2 Abyss In B Minor (4AD, 2010) introduces a
rhythmic intensity and a mood variability that is reminiscent of
A constant flow of thundering drumbeats sustains
the frantically morphing and ultra-busy
Ayisha Abyss, from the swirling abyss of musique concrete that opens it
to the revolving cast of ghostly vocals and electronic effects that battles for frontstage. So much so that the space-rock guitar remains timidly half-hidden
in the mix.
The guitar returns to the front in Blow Yr Brains In The Mourning Rain,
a more conventional space-rock jam that sonically and structurally evokes
the psychedelic masters of the 1960s.
The pulsing industrial dance beat of I Just Want To See Your Face
opens a completely new front even though the female vocals pull it into
Unfortunately the good songs end here. The
slow-motion shoegazing ballad Melody For Jaana, the booming doom-inspired litany Honeyjinx,
the hysterically poppy D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D
and the pastoral Magdalena
sound amateurish and out of context.
The lush, viscous production work cannot amend the obvious weakness of the material.
S-M 2 - Abyss in B Minor (2010) was another disappointment: a mediocre,
monotonous stream of over-arranged insignificance.
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