Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Nil Locales

Time to check in with my favourite roof-based band, the Celiling Demons. They're back with their latest offering, this time an album by the name of Nil. Things are going to get a little serious from here on out, so I'll leave you with the accompanying text for the album:
"In our time, depression and suicide litter the land like the broken bottles under our feet. Anxiety and detachment leave us feeling like ghosts. We turn to methods to cope, in bad habits and goodbyes. Amid this cold scenery, alternative hip hop group Ceiling Demons return to confront the emptiness"

I've no shortage of tunes dealing with a similar subject matter, be it the brutal honesty of Aesop Rock talking about his nervous breakdown on 'One Of Four', the resolute pessimism of The Mountain Goats asking life to do it's worst, Trent Reznor's idle rage on 'Everyday Is Exactly The Same', and the thick melancholy of Beth Gibbons of Portishead. And hell, even from unexpected sources such as ADULT. with lines like "Just when I think I'm in control, I fall apart again".

I could go on, but why have I even bothered to list those examples you ask? Well as a fellow inhabitant of the mental health issues boat, it's an issue very close to my heart (that and me and the Demons share a Northern background and all the associated trimmings to come of that too) And the Ceiling Demons have offered their own arrow to the quiver of media in this vein. And it all begins in a much different fashion than we're used to, The Rose with a stripped back acoustic approach accompanied with what I can only describe as wounded delivery. It's a fantastic mood-setter and a brave move to open with something so different in terms of sound to boot, with the added bonus of establishing the light/dark theme running throughout.

It's not long before we hit the first counterpoint, Chasing Dreams in Nightmares, a return to more familiar territory, albeit a much more aggressive angle than the last few we've covered so far; to quote a Gorillaz title, Spitting Out The Demons. As someone who turns to things like writing these posts, or re-visiting my 1001 side projects in times of strife, the bars at 1:44 resonate with me pretty deeply.

My feelings towards March Forward remain much the same as last time: I touched on the positive vibes last time, and it's present again here which I appreciate a heck of a lot. After all, this is what made me draw the comparison between Aesop Rock's One Of Four and themselves in the first place (particularly towards the end when Aes and the text to speech voice start looking up again). Unfortunately the positive angle can be a difficult one to do without sounding glib, but as I said last time I think the heart shines through here.

A return to a more skeletonised structure on Dust, I'm of two minds with this one, as I was listening I thought I'd quite like it to be an instrumental introspective bit around the middle ground of the album, but as it went on things got more intense and the intention finally clicked. It's difficult for me to listen to, not because it's bad or anything along those lines but rather it touches upon some real and raw areas for me. It's more of a compliment than anything when you frame it that way, that they've managed to capture the mindset so accurately. Not to say my instrumental wishes weren't granted mind, towards the end we have the almost-ambient Scattered by the Squall, which in hindsight is a better place for it, nicely setting up the epilogue Elegy of Nil, book-ending the whole experience and in keeping with the theme of contrasts, is a complete 180 from the minimalist intro, instead we're treated to an explosion of strings a la Don't Get Lost In Heaven / Demon Days.

It's an intense experience, perhaps one that may not be for everyone, especially for casual listening. But naturally not all music is for that, on the whole the LP is well structured and is thematically consistent throughout, and through that I think they've well achieved their aim of confronting the emptiness. And hopefully it'll connect with and lend a metaphorical hand to some people that were in that same place as me a few years ago.

You can find more Ceiling Demons on:

-Claude Van Foxbat

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