Dead Bandit / FROM THE BASEMENT
Dead Bandit are Chicagoan songwriter Ellis Swan and Canadian multi-instrumentalist James Schimpl. Swan has previously released solo works including the stunning, inward-looking album I’ll Be Around, a lo-fi Southern gothic dragging the husk of country ballads through battered signal chains. In Dead Bandit, Swan and Schimpl’s artistic vision casts its gaze outwards on a vast expanse, where the distortion has space to stretch its legs and the drums pound out into open space. There’s a common tonality at work here, the duos guitars telling a thousand hard-bitten tales where Swan’s voice falls silent. It’s no surprise to learn Swan and Schimpl’s reference points include Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack, SF noise rockers Chrome and the imperial work of the late, great Mark Sandman of Morphine.
You can sense Jim Jarmusch’s America just lingering behind the road-weary thrum of ‘These Clouds’ and detect the shadow of Tom Waits lurking in the raunchy lurch of ‘FF M’. The pointedly titled ‘Sedated’ calls to mind the slowcore movement and its rejection of rock n’ roll’s fixation on speed. Instead, tonality and atmosphere are key across From The Basement, although the ambient lull of ‘I See Her There’ is the exception rather than the rule. Dead Bandit’s desert sound has vibrancy and immediacy to match its moodiness, from the sultry swagger of opening track ‘Mud’ to the bold and borderline bombastic ‘When I Looked Around’.
Like the previous Quindi releases, this record is inherently experimental in nature, but not at the expense of its warmth and instant appeal. From the basement, an inquisitive pair with primitive tools look out and imagine a colossal plain as the canvas on which to paint their picture.
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