Being honest, sending me music by the public email address isn’t the best way to get my attention. Look, down there on the left – there’s a disclaimer says as much.
But if you get to me via a private email address, chances are someone I know has put you on to me and that’s more likely to gain a hearing. It was that route that introduced me to a band that I’d never heard of before a couple of years back – Thula Borah.
Since that email I’ve enjoyed their two initial releases so was pleased to get notice recently of not one but two Thula Borah related releases. First of all there’s their second full length LP ‘Qualia’ but which comes not long after, singer Lloyd Fay released a solo album ‘The Black River Chronicles’.
To ‘Qualia’ first. Thula Borah records usually feature a mixture of instrumentals and songs and ‘Qualia’ is no exception. Musically Mogwai is an obvious reference point but by no means the whole story.
A six song release the album still clocks in at 40 minutes worth of music. My initial impression of ‘Qualia’ was that more often than not,it’s a calmer record than its predecessors.
Opening track ‘Midnight Morning’ is a good example of their expansive, epic brand of rock, which is constructed slowly from simple instrumentation before building towards a memorable climax.
Thereafter the record slips effortlessly between ethereal dreamier sections and harder edged rock. In fact the staggering 10 minutes plus finale ‘Zero Progression’ manages to incorporate both sides of the band, opening with the usual layering of parts before climaxing with a fierce storm of guitars.
The harder edge is also evident on short instrumental ‘Bass Riff Song’ which starts with a squall of feedback before immediately launching into some dirty riffs. It could almost be a piece by NYC’s Big Sleep.
As with previous release ‘Live Secretly’, there’s an obvious single in here as well, in this case second track ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’ which proves that, whilst they may major in soundscapes and walls of guitars, Thula Borah are no slouches when it comes to delivering memorable hooks.
‘The Black River Chronicles’ is, in contrast, largely acoustic although there are certainly a couple of songs which sound like they would transfer fairly easily to Thula Borah.
But it’s perhaps my first exposure to the record that describes ‘BRC’ best. Listening to Mogwai’s ‘Les Revenants’ soundtrack on a recently added playlist, I initially thought that next song was also on the soundtrack and that Mogwai had joined forces with Malcolm Middleton for that song. Instead I was actually listening to the first song of ‘BRS’, ‘Among The Reeds’. But actually the Mogwai meets Middleton reference isn’t a bad shorthand for ‘The Black River Chronicles’.
What’s impressive though is that ‘Black River Chronicles’ demonstrates that Lloyd’s songwriting is not just restricted to the wide screen epic and songs like ‘Among The Reeds’ and ‘Snowglobe’ especially show that he can deliver on a more intimate scale.
Here’s the video for ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’: