After several years gaining a healthy reputation on Guernsey’s live circuit electro-dance-rock five-piece BLAKALASKA have released their debut EP, Machine.
The sound emanating from the speakers on this is custom-built for cavernous dark spaces with lasers strafing over a sweaty audience, while listening to it through headphones delivered at once a fantastically oppressive and hugely expressive experience.
The EP kicks off with title track, Machine, which sounds like a floor filling monster from the start, merging the sounds that have clearly influenced the band that can get bodies moving and heads banging in equal measure. It acts as a prime example of what gained the band the closing slot at the Vale Earth Fair a couple of years ago (under their previous moniker), but with extra added clarity.
In the live environment the balance between Ollie McVey’s leading synth charge and Oliver Farrimond’s counterpointing high-gain guitar slashes can be hard to discern, even with the best soundmen, but here the different instruments are crystal clear.
Second track Some Kind of Crime brings an atmospheric edge to proceedings as layers of bass rumble away under brittle high frequencies in a song that feels like its fallen from some near future sci-fi dystopian nightmare, while still having a living beating heart beneath the tech.
This heart, as well as being evident in the performance, particularly from vocalist Lee Rosette and drummer Barney Bean, comes through strongest in the lyrics that, now I can hear them more clearly, bring big emotions to the BLAKALASKA mix. These words, taken as a whole, deliver a surprisingly inspirational, positive, message of personal empowerment, once they coalesce from what sound like some fairly dark and bitter inspirations.
The EP is rounded off by Take Me, one of the band’s biggest numbers live and the first track they released, in demo form, sometime ago. Again being slightly slower and more atmospheric than the opener, it continues to develop the dynamics both within the band and in their sound which give a great balance that should go down just as well with a dance crowd as in a mosh pit.
BLAKALASKA have been at the pinnacle of Guernsey’s live electronic based music scene for some time and, on the strength of the Machine EP, they are heading in the right direction to stand alongside Mura Masa and W\ on record, albeit with a slightly darker, heavier, hue.
A version of this review was also published in the September 2015 edition of Guernsey’s Gallery Magazine: