Various - The Parlour 9 Sessions

Bill Cummings 27/03/2006

Rating: 3/5

Multimedia studios costing thousands of pounds an hour, vocal processors, overdubs, producers, all of these people are there to enhance a band's sound. Increasingly, though, production (when it comes to major label releases anyway) just seems to get in the way when it adds nothing but a sanitised sheen, or its glossing over a sheer lack of ability vocally or musically upon the artists part, it's tantamount to shining shit.

Parlour 9 are here presenting a antidote to of this, with a brand new compilation featuring Dolium (Parlour 9 is in fact the brainchild of Dolium front-man and producer Reece Adamo), Salvo, The Empty Vessels and The Betes Noires. According to the blurb, “each session was recorded using just basic, portable recording equipment and in a valiant bid to capture the true essence of each artist, Parlour 9 have ventured into rehearsal rooms, attics and living rooms in order to deliver these recordings.” Indeed this has led to a freshness of sound, and a raw power in production.

First up are Salvo's three tracks, London based punk-rockers Salvo are more uncompromising than the Mitchell brothers, they produce a ferociously in-your-face punk sound. If you thought punk was about Green Day and the other pale imitators then make way because Salvo chew up riffs, and spit out throat bleeding vocals. Indeed, the lo-fi nature of the Parlour 9 recording sessions seems to have given new life to already brutal sounds. “Bleeding Shins” sounds like the Ruts being ram raided by the Dead Kennedys, while “Faultline” has a Bleach-era Nirvana style about its snaking riff and a hoarse rhythmic vocal, imagine a sargeant major shouting in your face for four minutes above a riot of guitars and bass, and you get the picture. In actual fact, lo-fi recordings like these often contain more energy, passion and true essence of a band than any studio recording could ever possess.

South East London's the Empty Vessels, meanwhile, are purveyors of zoo art noise. With a sound that balances itself somewhere between a precariously cymbal led version of The Fall and Television above which live Matt's Bowie-being-grabbed-around-the-throat vocals. The first track is a recorded version of “Monkey”. It's a good tune: its edgy distorted vocal effect adding to the feeling of disquiet one feels when this throbbing rhythm and Matt's howling chimp noises kick in. While “Into The Well” struts along in a pleasingly off-kilter way, frontman Matt babbling all the way, in contrast “It's Not Guilty Pleasure” positively throbs, bass guitars and vocals urging forward into a deep dark crescendo of noise. The Empty Vessels aren't a commercially acceptable proposition, often their sound is akward and difficult to listen too but that's their strength weaving dark patterns and making off the wall sounds is their forte, its just it won't be to everyone's tastes.

Belfast alt-rock trio The Betes Noires are more a straightforward, they produce powerful punk rock riffs and a melodic sound that owes a bit to Ash and a smidgen to Nirvana. First track from them “Visceral Path” is pleasing enough, careering along at a hundred miles an hour, its “hey hey” vocal refrain and buzzing solo half way through add up to something satisfying. While “What We Lost In The Process” is pure primetime early Ash, fantastic buzzsaw guitars and a urgent melody line (“the Sweetest lies are the burning kind”) that fires off into orbit near the end, really make this one of the best tracks on the album.

Bringing up the rear is Manchester's Dolium (who were also the brains behind this compilation) with their filthy brand of punk rock and roll. “She's The Pill...” is furiously riffing and melodic. QOTSA should take note for their next album. Whilst other tracks remind me of Bleach-era Nirvana, snaking lo-fi guitar lines and a bitter melodic sleaziness. It's amazing that an album like this that cuts the crap, cuts out the overdubs and gets down to the business of making music sounds so good. Sure some bits aren't as well realised as others but all in all its well worth five pounds of your money.