[sic] Magazine

The Membranes – Dark Matter/Dark Energy

There are times when knowing about a bands storied past can be a burden for a reviewer, since they’re apt to have to compare how the new record ultimately fits in with the bands established canon. Thankfully in this case I had heard of The Membranes but had never really heard The Membranes. Free from the burden of a band’s past can be a great thing. It allows the listener to approach the music without any preconceived notions. It’s art for arts sake. So when Dark Matter/Dark Energy hit my desk, I was more than a little curious.

What strikes you about the record right off the bat is the unique instrumentation that’s employed to get across the bands message. The disparate layers in many of the songs feel like shards of glass but for some reason they mesh together in a frighteningly coherent way.

A track like ‘Do the Supernova’ has hints of other bands that I’ve liked in the past such as Cop Shoot Cop and Test Department. I love the crunch of the bass mixed with stabs of staccato guitar and that short sharp shock aggressiveness you find in punk. This is a band that fills each measure with meaning, punctuating every last phrase with an energy that makes for an album that keeps you constantly on your toes.

‘21st Century Man’ is a stellar track that takes all of what I mentioned above and amps the energy up to 11. Imagine the spoken nature of The Stranglers tune ‘Peaches’ keep the vocals mix in a little Henry Rollins for seasoning then strip away the music. Then starve the bassist, guitarist and drummer and then fill them with a six pack of red bull each and this is what you might get. It’s a slice of punk that has a take no prisoner’s visceral, fist in the face aggressiveness that both infuriates and keeps you hooked.

‘Money is Dust’ is a frightening track with its hushed vocals and pulsating drums. It paints a sinister portrait of the world we live in. I love how the song comes to a major crescendo almost two thirds of the way in spinning up into a hailstorm of swirling guitars and then slowly subsiding.

This album mesmerizes because it manages to eek out a space so few bands dare to try and reach. Much like the universe it attempts to describe, the band has created an artistic statement that feels something akin to having observed a galactic event. When all is said and done this is a thrilling record that is visionary in scope and something the music literati will be poring over for decades to come.

Membranes at Cherry Red