Thursday, 22 June 2017

Review - Equinox - It's Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin

Equinox - It's Hard To Be Happy When Your Head Is Full Of Sin (Recordiau Prin)

DL / Ltd CD

26 June 2017


Review by Amy.

The debut album by Equinox is a collaborative effort which sees various artists, some familiar, some not so come together to produce a body a work greater than the sum of its parts.  There's some amazing talent onboard and one can only imagine how much organising the logistics of a project like this must have taken, but it just goes to prove what a labour of love this has been (and still is). 

The opening line on any album should set the entire work up, draw the listener in, even provoke them if you can,  'I know what I'm doing is wrong, but, I just can't help myself' is a bold statement and about as honest an exposition as you can get and begins a theme that continues throughout.   'It's Hard to be Happy when your Head is full of Sin' is a collection of poems that doesn't cover the world with the rose tinted filter we've all become so accustomed to, no, this is more likely to peel your eyes open to reveal the real, gritty world that really goes on around and amongst us, weaving it's truths - pretty or not - between our ears.   The listener is taken on a journey through the darker side of human nature, exposing not only the poet's innermost private thoughts but the listener's too - it's unsettling and that's what makes it so good.

The voice of Equinox is sincere, desperate, accusatory, resigned, self-loathing, raw, visceral,  spitting one minute then yearning to be noticed by his subject the next.  There's  a battle raging throughout all the pieces, tangible in places, almost like the poet is tussling with himself, never quite satisfied, always feeling like there's something more, always hungry, ready to devour anything including himself if it means he might get some peace or some kind of resolution.  This unsettled discontent will probably make the listener feel uneasy, it's something that will rattle around your head for days, this unknown voice that seems to know exactly who you are  -  there is a familiarity and warmth to the voice but you've been warned it will reach down into your soul and latch onto your very core with every sinewy finger it has, good luck shaking it loose.

 'Somebody Too' (featuring Rosie Bans) really stands out, the instrumentation lets the words breathe, luring you into a false sense of security by lurking quietly in the shadows before pouncing at you with an almost heartbreaking instrumental, it really captures the essence of what this project is about.   Vince Clarke provides an hypnotizing, daze inducing soundtrack to 'Goodnight Vienna' which makes it very difficult to move onto the next piece.   'Mule' is interesting, musically speaking it's the lightest sounding track on the album, almost trespassing on Shoegaze territory, however, don't let that fool you - those light fuzzy guitars meandering in the background provide  a stark contrast to the bitter and self-depreciative 'this stubborn old mule has nothing to give' line.

Overall, considering how many different artists and styles that feature on this album it still feels very cohesive.  This is an album of contradictions and of contrasts, whether that be the words of Equinox himself or the soundtracks that accompany them - some tracks are drenched in noise while some are barely noticeable. There are apocalyptic, mechanical almost verging on Krautrock riffs from Deux Furieuses one minute then a simple atmospheric piano provided by Will Harris the next - I could easily write a standalone review for every single track as they're all so different but, just trust me when I tell you to just listen to the damn thing and let it strip you of any previous conceptions you had of yourself - the profundity of the words/themes/subject matter will (or should) resonate with a lot of inner narratives.   Prepare to see yourself and the rest of the Human Race very differently.

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