[sic] Magazine

The Janitors – Noisolation Sessions Vol. 1

Like many artists, Swedish fuzz kings The Janitors had an album ready to go before the first lockdown hit, but due to the uncertain times and inability to tour it, they currently have it shelved. Using that time to rework parts of that album, they also recorded a particularly moody and apt cover of Joy Division’s “Isolation”, as well as some new, typically gloomy songs. Cue the Noisolation Sessions Vol. 1, quickly recorded and released, a capture of the moment, but also an intimate portrait of The Janitors song-writing process.

Intimate, yes, but it still sounds solemn and huge, another very good record in a hot run of them that started with 2017’s blackened Horn Ur Marken, through the rarities collection 15 Years Of Fuzz And Folköl, and on to the recently rereleased Drone Head. And it’s Horn Ur Marken that the Noisolation Sessions pick up from, the stoned desert-rock of opener “Through The Storm Into Chaos” a good example, its monolithic bass, clapping percussion and jangling guitars just so alluring, this misanthropic mosey staring down the oncoming tempest like some meteorological Canute, a maelstrom of windblown noise inevitably swallowing the track at its epic close.

The Janitors really know how to build a song up. Their compositions are not clever or wilfully obscure; they’re relatively simple with an almost poppy construction, but they’re made of the most macabre parts. Consequently, the catchy “Thing Is Rising” is a dangerous combination of drums and menacing guitar, a creepy yet fun vocal croaking out some psychobilly style tropes as it goes, this slo-mo neck-popper gouging out an inevitable path forward like some glacial flow, drawn-out echo adding space-rocks effects as it collapses into EQ-killing scree.

A seemingly endless, dark toybox at their disposal, the rest of the session is filled with shamanistic chant and metallic shards echoing away in the void, buzz-saw guitars slicing through distorted bass and beds of static. Doomy reverb renders the vocal near satanic, twanging Eastern mysticism coalescing into melancholy dirges, synth-scan clearing a path for these steely wrecking-balls to haul themselves over the tundra, a trail of devastation in their wake. Considering the iconic original, it’s remarkable just how bleak, but complimentary the cover is too, that rumbling miserablism simmering away on rippling sheet metal, threatening to tip over into the mental turpitude that Ian Curtis so barely concealed.

So, thanks to The Janitors for tiding us over during lockdown v.2 with the forbidden fruit of these productive sessions. And even better, we know there’s another new album in the tank for post-COVID times too and perhaps a second volume of these sessions as well. Suddenly the future doesn’t look quite as dismal.

Best track: “Thing Is Rising”

~Noisolation Sessions Vol. 1 is release November 13th 2020 via the collaborative efforts of Cardinal Fuzz and Little Cloud Records.~