[MUSIC: Album Review] New War – New War
Space, or at least the impression of it, plays an important role on New War’s debut. The instrumentation is pretty straightforward post-punk fare; what makes it exciting is the spaces implied by what’s played, the chemistry lurking between the notes.
Take the first minute of ‘Game Of Love’: little more than a two-note bass loop, a simple floor tom, and Chris Pugmire singing “come to me, oh come to me” as enigmatically and threateningly as he can. What’s truly striking is the formless mass of noise that rises behind it all, building an impalpable sense of panic. The memory of that first, eerie mood lasts throughout much of the rest of the record, seething just out of earshot.
Although New War is effectively a retro-pop band (recalling groups like Gang Of Four, or maybe Flowers Of Romance-era PiL), much of this album eschews pop structures in favour of menacing atmosphere, and it sounds like most of it was jammed out rather than written. Sometimes it doesn’t work the way it’s perhaps meant to – the acid-ruined poetry that accompanies atmospheric drone on ‘Felt Like A Memory’ is more than a little silly. But the piece it segues into is fantastic, all tumbling pulses, grating synths and gritty bass.
The textural ebb and flow on ‘Calling From The Inside’ feels effortless; dubby guitar ambience ambles slowly across the stereo spectrum, with Pugmire spouting aphorisms like a post-punk Jim Morrison. But it’s ‘Black Site Cantos’ that proves to be the most effective piece – a single, creaking bass riff drives the tune, loping and raving, to a shell-shocked, screeching climax.
An impressive debut assembled with a collective sleight of hand that somehow manages to conjure much with seemingly very little.