6 Aug 2015
Reviewed by Joseph Murphy
East Kilbride, Scotland's Helicon have released their eighth EP via EXAG' Records. Though only a sampling of their current permutation, “Gehenna” works as an introductory piece for their extensive discography, which dates back to 2011 and includes many of the recurring pieces of the present – though significantly less post-punk in sound, if you're familiar with works like 2012's “Polarized.” On their more recent releases – from 2013 and onward – the band has turned more toward hazy drones and exploratory passages of ambient pop. The five piece recently played dates in Europe with the likes of Dead Meadow, the Underground Youth, and the Warlocks – among others. Like them, Helicon has turned to psychedelia as a basis for instrument experimentation, ornamenting dark and dramatic compositions with bursts of weirdness and lush layers. Each of the EP's three songs were recorded live and capture a bit of the frenetic energy and tension that bleeds from their union of raga, shoegaze, and heavy psych experimentation (see particularly “In a Sad Red Dusk,” which showcases their added sitar player).
“Heavy Black Hole Jets,” the EP's brief centerpiece, has the aural quality of a vast cavern; with sparse, buried vocals – the only on the record – and dense reverb across the soundboard, the song feels as though it might pound away forever at the riff, which intensifies and warbles until its fade out. It appears as well on the band's previous release, 2014's “Disturbance for the Disturbed EP,” though in a different context – between the great “Clusterfuck” and “Going Home.”
The epic closer – at nearly ten minutes - “We're Gaun Tae The Moon” begins with a dense, descending guitar riff and tumbles through, toward a swirling build. With a tight and expressive rhythm backing, the song has enough free form expression and experimentation to carry the length of the long song. Just before its halfway mark, the song is dismantled and reinvents itself, drifting through a flurry of effects and ornamentation, providing the perfect close to a promising continuation of Helicon's output.
The EP is available in digital formats and limited edition 12” vinyl from the label or the Helicon Bandcamp page.