[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
There you are! This is the Attrition I know and love, the one which does disturbingly experimental work. You know, the albums which don’t get the rave reviews or have heavy rotation in the clubs. No, what they’ve done with Invocation can proudly join the ranks of the sublime releases This Death House, Something Stirs and Esoterica. It’s no accident this was released 30 years after their debut I’m certain, and it’s no coincidence that Martin Bowes does these sorts of outings sporadically. In the world of this Coventry institution there are no accidental observations… never does the smoke rise without purpose. I’d call this Incidental Musics IV if it hadn’t already been titled.
An ongoing circular inspection of the mind, an inquisitive foray into the regions most would give anything not to have or acknowledge. Here is where this group excel; in the sphere of music telling the tales the eyes can only behold when closed, Attrition are king. There is an oft-repeated phrase which defines Invocation to a tee: no one who is evil believes they are. They act for the good of those around them, they do what must be done. The end always justifies the means and to that end we have this work to drink in gratefully. Tell me the last time a record made your skin crawl like this, the walls closing in all around, and even if you could break the spell you wouldn’t dare.
Attrition chronicle the purity and unadulterated bliss those who suffer a psychotic break must feel.
I have not seen the movie this serves as a score to, but based upon what I’m hearing I don’t suspect it has a happy ending. No sunshine on the face in fields of lilies as the woman you love walks quietly beside you out of the underworld. Orpheus with his empty hand standing in the spring as the vines grow over where she lies imprisoned, the bittersweet melancholy of this album is perhaps what gives it the incredible range it possesses. Much like a caramel you slowly dissolve in your mouth, everything is coated in a thick layer of cloying constitution. The taste of all these things coalesces to form the sticky web one cannot get rid of.
Again and again Attrition demonstrate how ambient is more than just a mood or setting on one’s emotional thermometer. In their skilled hands it transcends mere background and permeates the surroundings to become ambiance. The brooding, temperamental nature of Invocation is not going to be what people remember them for – they have a newer, more accessible album for that – but when they do decide that the time has come to retire, it is material such as this which their fans will come back to and re-discover. No catchy melodies, no driving beats and no sinewy bass lines but rather the defragmentation of the psyche. A dismantling of perceptions.
In this realm where the skies are perpetually shrouded in unending twilight and crawling shadows, an Attrition is indeed going on. But it is more to do with the literal meaning of the word than what sound can convey. Bowes work of this nature is some of the most disturbing you will hear and that his wife Kerri joined him on this excursion into boundless midnight clearly demonstrates what can be accomplished when the fates align. Here’s to more, you two. Many many more.