Album: Serena-Maneesh, No 2: Abyss In B Minor (4AD)

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The Independent Culture

Ever since his school music teacher played his charges The Velvet Underground's "Heroin", Emil Nikolaisen, leader of Norwegian band Serena-Maneesh, has had an affinity for sonic extremity, pushed to the limit on this follow-up to their 2006 debut.

Frustrated by sanitised recording studios, the band recorded Abyss In B Minor in a cave on the outskirts of Oslo. "I love the underworld," explained Nikolaisen. "You can silently head down there and do as you please, leave the world behind." And tracks like opener "Ayisha Abyss" certainly leave the world behind, its juddering Krautrock groove marked by a pleasing, floaty texture. Such vocals as there are are hushed murmurs, indistinct ghostly presences caught up in the surging sound. (One can only marvel at the job done by mixers Nick Terry and René Tinner, faced with not one but several walls of sound.) Elsewhere, "Melody For Jaana" is a warm, miasmic love duet adrift on a sea of white noise, while "Reprobate!" and "I Just Want To See Your Face" are psych-pop exercises in the vein of Viva Voce and The Jesus And Mary Chain, which find the band searching for the pop sensibility hidden within feedback-laced art-noise rock, a blend of the abrasive and the tender.

Download this Ayisha Abyss; Reprobate!; I Just Want To See Your Face; Melody For Jaana