Deathconciousness by Have A Nice Life arrived a few weeks ago. I've sat and brooded and thought; and I finally feel like I've thoroughly digested this one enough to write about it.
The band consists of locals Tim Macuga of Nahvalr and The Danger Strangers, and Dan Barrett, of Giles Corey and the now-defunct In Pieces. After years of work, the album was finally released last year to much critical praise and a rapidly expanding fanbase. The vinyl was pressed earlier this year in a very limited quantity.
Firstly, the album packaging is beautiful. This gatefold double LP comes with a stark black cover emblazoned with a lone washed out black and white photo of a soldier. Inside, there's an interior classical painting which is slightly distorted and mirrored. Also included with the album was the entire 70-page booklet which includes an explanation of the album and the obscure "Deathconciousness" text. Perhaps it's meant to be read in tandem to listening to the album? It's a pretty dense bit of reading, so don't expect to fly through it.
So how does it sound? On the surface, the music is all the things I love about bedroom recordings: reverbed out vocals, fuzzy guitars and pounding lo-fi drumming. Digging a bit deeper you'll find the dreampop sensibilities are supported by atonal drop-d metal riffs and razor-sharp vocal wit. Each song is minimalistic to it's approach, but remains very calculated from start to finish. There's a lot of crafting that went into each song, and it definately shows. Take "The Big Gloom" for instance - it's heartfelt lyrics drive the song through the beginning, but when the drums kick in, it's pure bliss that drives it home - it builds and builds until it's a wash of beautiful sound.
The album remains a very personal work: it's dark, it's bleak and it's depressing. Still, there's an undercurrent of black comedy behind all of this, with song titles like "A Quick One Before The Eternal Worm Devours Connecticut" and "Waiting For Black Metal Records To Come In The Mail." Through the fear and shadow, tragic humor and irony will always be behind the scenes - it keeps you sane in periods of insanity. Is your corpse smiling?
The album was released through their own label, Enemies List. You should keep your eye on them for some up and coming bands. It's really shocking that something like this is coming out of Middletown! You can buy the record direct from Enemies List if there are any copies left, or you could go with a digital download. Whatever your media preference, you should be snapping this up ASAP.
Also, for anyone who is interested, there is a fan-produced collection of B-sides and demos from this album titled VOIDS which is freely available. While not quite on the same level as the album, there are some really heavy tracks there.