Listencorp review image of no pulse by sawak

No Pulse



Liam Murphy

May 29, 2019

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Sawak’s debut venture erupts from the cold basement in Krakow. A maelstrom of chanting voices croon to a steady beat…

Sawak’s debut venture erupts from the cold basement in Krakow. A maelstrom of chanting voices croon to a steady beat in the opening song Tibetan. To the right of these voices, deformed echoes follow there intimations. A purposeful and definitive atmosphere of discomfort and avant-garde expression takes the reigns, driving the groups sound and style. The vocal collage moves as its own amorphous life-form, slithering along.  

An explosion of brass mixes with screaming cymbals and guitars in the first instance we hear that actually sounds like a performing band. But the brass strains and the cymbals reverse unnaturally. The band instantly introduce a dense cacophony of sound that can only be likened to a possessed Neutral Milk Hotel outtake. 

The next movement is a well-produced drum loop, with xylophone notes stumbling around the menacing mouth of an industrial bass sound opening and shutting. Ghostly voices whisper just out of reach, bells whistle with fluid, dissonant melodies, emerging briefly, only to fall back into the cacophony of sound. As the band take their form, their is still something so unnatural about the sound. As though a classic post-rock outfit are playing in a dark room as some curse moves instruments and bends sounds around them. 

The listener gets an immediate sense of a band forged with an energetic and unique sense of rage at its core. Not to be enjoyed but to be experienced. 

The band break into a slowly falling pattern, fit with bass guitar and drums. A power runs through the raw performance. The instruments screech in unison until the guitar drops out. Leaving room for a solemn and austere voice that laments. The voice provides us with a definitive insight into the bands intentions. It’s sometimes so difficult to know what exactly a majorly instrumental band is driving at. However, the voice speaks of the world ending, of scriptures and of lessons never learned by mankind. Everything falls to silence as the voice repeats ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’. The sounds the band produce are now permanently fringed with a nihilism towards the world and the cruelty, hatred and darkness of unseen powers and forces that reside within. 

The instruments burst forth once again with renewed frustration. The production is beautifully organic, as a pan pipe joins proceedings once the storm of guitars has faded out. The band can evidently reach a number of levels and moods successfully, as they cycle through melancholy, aggressive and absurd all in one song. A wailing noise rises and falls at the songs end, and we are fully welcomed into this strange and uneven terrain Sawak create.

The sounds of a continent distant from western culture fill the air in Field and Horses. A muffled voice calling intensely through a badly amplified microphone, it’s anger restrained and trapped in a compressed and low-quality fizzle. Middle-eastern instruments sail through the streets, making way for the fast and steady sound of hooves. They carry within, a deep and menacing note that holds steady as the band find form around it. Chirping, fragmented guitars slowly form around the droning note. The hypnagogic work of Manzareck is surely an influence, one almost expects some intoxicated, fallen angel to croon or spit non-sequiturs over the instrumental, but Sawak lay the instrumentation bare with no indication as to how we should take it. Guitar and percussion fight, the cymbals stumble drunkenly along accompanied by strange, repeating beeps and warbles. Another sample dribbles into focus, the sound of wind chimes and inaudible young voices lure us in. Stark guitar notes wind the song down to a slow and ambivalent pace. Are we meant to feel our fear has been quelled by this slumbering speed? The shrieking strings tell us to remain ever watchful, nothing is clear.

Mirrors starts with possibly the most definitive rhythm on the album. An acoustic guitar bares it’s inner workings to us with an organic and scratching sound. It leads us with an eastern-European inspired rhythm. Almost cute notes played on an organ and xylophone skip around the motif, seemingly unaware of the stark musicianship that we’ve come to expect so far. But these notes suddenly turn more expressionist than positive. Random garbles at random intervals. The drums suddenly burst to prominence and the guitars meet the crescendo with distorted anger. Eerie glass piano notes play us out. 

More nihilistic samples, Exquisite Bedlam laments of the cesspool of humanity. The hatred and violence that exist in all humans. A bass line repeats itself, finding a rhythm and tone that one could liken to Mogwai. A brooding and unassuming sound. The band travel together improvising off of the infectious bass riff. One may think this to be the most approachable song on the album, that is until a tortured and horrified girl is forced to endure some unspeakable terror in the form of an almost unlistenable sample. It quickly disappears, but the sense that Sawak want to keep you on the edge of your seat in their bleak and energy-sapping show is evident.

Pulse clambers into rhythm with an organ line sounding almost like a loading screen for a minimalistic phone game. Trill-ridden synth notes follow its lead, and we are introduced to a simple, almost beautiful creature that’s heart beats in a predictable rhythm. Can we possibly let our guard down this time? The melody created is more generally pleasing than anything we’ve heard so far. Even the accordion chimes in with a slow but beautifully melodic drawl. The drums lead us into an even more unexpected section in which a guitar plays beautifully open and unrestricted notes. The xylophone lifts us with purely positive and beautifully simple scales. Low strings lead us through an emotive pairing of notes, one bringing us up in excitement, and one that brings us down comfortable but with a touch of melancholic sadness. This moment beautifully counterpoints the majority of the album. Everything is made bright in the drab Krakow basement we imagine this bands sound to be emanating from. There is hope for the human race possibly after all. Sawak introduces us once again to the beautiful predictable creature we met at the very start. Simple, innocent and beautiful. 

Radio Free Apocalypse closes the album. Another surprisingly optimistic track that begins with a man breaking down the etymological characteristics of the word yoga. As he does this, feedback and low toned organs whirl around him. We lose his voice as a beautiful swirling melody erupts. The grace and happiness of this melody almost washes away the jagged abstract tendencies of the earlier tracks. The general 4-note motif leads the other instruments. As the guitars find their own distinct voice, the man comes back into focus for a while, babbling once again about the word yoga. The drums become a cacophony of sound as a lone note wails it’s way through the crowd. Feelings of dread and menace are wiped clean and the band let their instruments wail and whine until they are made quiet, lost in a sea of strange sounds and spiked radio sound bites.

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