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Bark Psychosis - Codename: Dustsucker CD (album) cover


Bark Psychosis

Post Rock/Math rock

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4 stars As the band who happened to be at the front of the queue when the Wire were distributing the latest batch of slightly grandstanding genre names, Bark Psychosis have gathered quite a reputation among post-rock fans. Sure, Hex may have come after Spiderland and Laughing Stock and Millions Now Living...but it was the album that finally booted the music press into action, and made them see a constellation in the diversity of different bands that were to fall under the term, however unwillingly.

This album is not Hex. It's better than Hex (ho ho ho), if less singular. It has a vibe of its own, and it is a vibe that hides very well the fact that mastermind Graham Sutton has spent the intervening near-decade making, of all things, tech-step. Perhaps it is the presence of Lee Harris in the drumstool, but Dustsucker is very much more in the shadow of Talk Talk than its predecessor. It is easy to forget what a great skinsman Harris actually is, a master of slow but busy grooves with lots of jazzy work on the cymbals and hats. (Most of dustsucker fairly crawls along, rumbling in the lower registers, with the only bright notes coming from those cymbals.)

And if Harris's turn here highlights how Talk Talk was more than Mark Hollis, Tim Friese-Green and a lot of heroin, the overall sound itself brings out the collaborative elements of the original line-up. Those famous dubby basslines have followed their creator off stage, replaced by intermittent threatening growls and a general focus on atmosphere rather than groove. The synths are almost gone, barring some very subtle atmospherics and a 10mph acid line on Miss Abuse.

So what we have is less Hex 2 than Laughing Stock '04. And that's no bad thing, really. It's odd, given how influential that record was, how little use has been made of its most interesting devices; schizoid instrumental performances, wild sweeps in dynamics, intervention of harsh noise in the most soporific possible way - all power Dustsucker magnificently. By turns gorgeous, tense and terrifying, no post-rocker should be without it.

Report this review (#157588)
Posted Thursday, January 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Out of nowhere comes an album and group I've never heard of producing amazing music! I'm hearing Stereolab, Ben Watt, David Sylvian, Lunatic Soul, Ulver, Massive Attack, No-Man, Tortoise, XTC, Bill Evans, Koop, The Jazzmasters, Robert Fripp, Ryuichi Sakamoto, The Beta Band, Adam Plack, Alain Eskinazi all mixed into one in a way in which the sum of all these parts is breathtaking! If this is Post/Math Rock, then this is my new favorite album from the sub-genre. And such diverse sounding songs! Though all the offerings could almost be considered low-key lounge music, there are so many subtle, interesting, brave, and virtuosic things going on within each song as to be totally engaging--no: engulfing! And it's so beautiful! And just listen to the wonderful drum work! And the power of the growly (ŕ la Ulver's "Garm" and David Sylvian) male and breathy female vocals. All five star songs but two. Another modern masterpiece. Highly recommended as essential for any prog rock lover's music collection!
Report this review (#636408)
Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's appropriate that Lee Harris, the drummer and percussionist for late-period Talk Talk, guests on this much-delayed second album by the masterful Bark Psychosis. Both Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis were absolutely key to the foundation of the post-rock subgenre - the term, in fact, was invented by reviewers scrambling for a way to describe the first Bark Psychosis album - but most of the second-tier bands who started playing post-rock once it had coalesced as a genre took their lead not from Talk Talk or Bark Psychosis but from groups such as Mogwai, Sigur Ros and Godspeed You Black Emperor, possibly because it was more readily evident how to mimic those bands' sound whereas Talk Talk's Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock and Hex by Bark Psychosis seemed to be the result of brilliant, unrepeatable accidents.

Well, Codename: Dustsucker proves just how wrong that is, in that it manages to be a brilliant continuation of the sound of Hex which, if anything, broadens its horizons (there's some interludes which approach straightforward jazz) whilst at the same time beating most latter-day post-rock groups at their own game. In fact, whilst Hex suggested the manifold possibilities of the post-rock genre, Dustsucker does a far better job at actually realising their potential.

Report this review (#671276)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have heard many times this "Codename:Dustsucker" project and I found it to be quiet a treat. Great song composition and fusion of opposite flavors.... Of course they are not "discovering" this alliances; as Peter Gabriel realized some time ago; and even built a project around it (Real World Records) also of course Mexican and Brazilian proggers to name some. So it is not necessary to overblow this "attribute" about this band. Creativily speaking, song-wise; they pull up some amazing acts. The clash of opposites works out perfectly; so it is not mere latin- fusion; it makes sense; it has direction and I insist; great songwriting!.... So; is it essential in the ageless archives of progressive music ? (the famed 4 stars) Well; if it was not for the fact; that every time the male singer sings; I am completely thrown back to the works of David Sylvian after "Japan" to pinpoint it! (now I can affirm; how overlooked and underrated this guy has been to a lot of new prog-bands)... BUT; as soon as the female starts singing; everything returns to planet "Bark Psychosis" again; and it sounds like a different proposal entirely; the whole air is removed and cleaned; and it sounds astounding. So; if you dont mind the "David Sylvian" factor; I suppose for you is a 4 star project. - I am not; in that in that selected crowd; so an effort that could have grown to 4; will remain in 3good-work Stars. Great songwriting: I insist!
Report this review (#971592)
Posted Wednesday, June 5, 2013 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars I still remember clearly my first listen to this album. Ninety percent of the time my first listen to a new recording isn't a big deal, i'm just trying to get the feel of the album knowing there will be many more spins before I review it. This one was different though because i'd heard that BARK PSYCHOSIS were considered by many to be the first Post-Rock band, in fact that term "Post-Rock" was first used to describe the music on their debut "Hex". Now unfortunately I wasn't able to track down "Hex" until much later down the road as it was almost impossible to find at the time, so again my first listen to this their sophomore album which was released some ten years after the debut was interesting to say the least.

Bands that came to mind during that first listen were TALK TALK, THE CHURCH and NO-MAN. This wasn't as ambient as I thought it would be although it certainly is that, but we get these powerful atmospheric passages that brought "Together We're Stranger" to mind plus outbursts of noise and feedback at times as well. Male vocals from band leader Graham Sutton lead the way but the female vocals on a few songs really add to the enjoyment. Not surprisingly Lee Harris plays some drums on here, he was the drummer for TALK TALK who most certainly were the band that influenced Graham the most at the time.

"From What Is Said To When It's Read" really brings a song from EMBRYO's "We Keep On" to mind at the start, mainly the male vocals. It eventually drifts along with soft vocals. It's spacey 3 1/2 minutes in then it turns quite powerful. "The Black Meat" is the track that brings THE CHURCH to mind with that jangly sound along with the vocals. Check out the trumpet before 3 minutes sounding like TALK TALK. "Miss Abuse" starts slow but like a train leaving the station it starts to build. Vocals sing out of the darkness as deep bass lines come and go. A change 3 minutes in as the train stops but not for long. "400 Winters" opens with strummed guitar as fragile vocals join in along with vibes. A fuller sound follows and the vibes really bring MOONGARDEN's "Round Midnight" to mind. The bass and backing female vocals are nice touches. Piano only before 5 minutes. "Dr. Innocuous/Retard" is a short one minute piece with experimental sounds, a beat and more leading the way.

"Burning The City" is led by strummed guitar, piano and laid back vocals early on. A beat and vibes join in. A change 2 minutes in as it settles right down as percussion, voices and piano lead. The vibes are back along with some experimental feed-back like sounds that come and go. "INQB8TR" has a heavy atmosphere like something out of the apocalypse to start. A beat kicks in around a minute as the guitar offers up some experimental notes. Vibes and vocals 3 minutes in then more of that powerful atmosphere that comes and goes. Female spoken vocals here as well. Cool tune. "Shapeshifting" opens with drums as guitar, female vocals, organ and more join in. Insanity before 3 1/2 minutes, amazing! It settles back and ends with strange sounds. "Rose" is sparse sounding with floating organ that creates a lot of atmosphere. Female voices come and go.

This really is a must for Post- Rock fans out there who enjoy the other bands i've mentioned in this review. Closer to 4.5 stars in my opinion.

Report this review (#1299864)
Posted Sunday, November 2, 2014 | Review Permalink

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