[sic] Magazine

[retreat] – [retreat]

“In a time where mass information suffocates the public, where fiction and nonfiction merges into a seeming less stream of human consumption – what is the truth?

S U B T R A C T , E V A C U A T E , R E T R E A T »

Barnsley band The Black Lamps scored an album of the year here in 2015 with dreamy post punk reminiscent of The Chameleons. Lyndon Scarfe, (of The Black Lamps’ and The Danse Society) is joined by Sam Horton (Regional Creeps // The Shakamoto Investigation) for new project [retreat]

We are obviously fans of the square brackets [ ].

We first saw [retreat] in 2015, featuring them in our First Glances series. It was around the time of their A Public Witness Program debut. This eponymous follow-up widens the vision. [retreat] is a blend of electronics, field recordings and spoken word. At times we are in the realms of house and trance. At others, [retreat] feels like a soundtrack to something both familiar and disquieting. I feel the record is saying something about today’s society – certainly when it engages the talents of poets Sam Batley and Toria Garbutt but also saying something when it is wordless. The album juxtaposes the inner and the outer. Everyday occurrences are casually observed, abstractions feel familiar and the only true escape from urban decay is to sink slowly within yourself.

To retreat.

Drugs might help. Introspection, meditation and mindfulness are cleaner paths. Or we could leave it up to the hypnotic pull of [retreat]s rhythms to aid our trance-like states. Some of the highlights include ‘One One One’, an Underworld –like banger featuring the freeform diatribe of Sam Batley (somewhat reminiscent of John Cooker Clarke). ‘Three Six Nine’ evokes Chemical Brothers and even Kraftwerk with is motoric propulsion. Toria Garbutt lends her poetic allure to ‘Like Fingerprints’ an inner city Noir with mournful, Lynchian trumpet. Our Femme Fatal aches to “go back, to a time that soothes and gasps, that wraps me in its arms, and says shhhhh…”

Sounds enticing but beware this sirens call.

[retreat] is a sensory journey. The instrumental pieces that punctuate it are abstract art installations that simply cannot be skipped. ‘Come with Us’ closes the record and is another storming track. The guitar is to die for. A holistic experience then but one that is constantly on a knife edge. Everyday normality is never far from collapse. We could be in a Night Shop or the Launderette but I half expect a brick through the window at any moment. Unfortunately this is no longer the stuff of Ballardian fiction. It feels authentic….real. Like an episode of Black Mirror, this is a mere five minutes into the future and its coming for us all. As the looters start climbing our stairs, S U B T R A C T , E V A C U A T E , R E T R E A T.

Or press play. Loud.

[retreat] is out now on CD + Booklet pack or digitally at an absurdly reasonable price.