Eternals Heavy International

It’s all about "the mix being so bizarre,” to paraphrase the leadoff track. If you have to point it out though, how strange is it going to be? The building blocks of the mix are a stew of dub-y baselines, itchy echoes, off-kilter, un-quantised electronics, a sing-song-y vocal delivery and disembodied backup vocals. It’s pretty compelling, if not unfamiliar, stuff for anyone still in thrall of PIL’s Metal Box. Vocalist and lyricist Damon Locks has a unique flow featuring wordy lyrics delivered in a half-spoken, half-sung delivery, which is in keeping with the dub flavour of the disc. Sometimes his vocals contain subtle dancehall DJ cadences and references but more often explore a tenuous falsetto. Sour keyboards, with flattened digital organ sounds and the occasional melodica sample, add colour and sonic range; the guitars are hardly a factor. An undeniably great element to this disc is drummer Tim Mulvenaa, best known for his work in the Vandermark 5. Mulvenaa knits everything together with his bumpy, funky kit playing. Where songs might otherwise fall apart from too many dashes of this and that, Mulvenaa holds it down not by somehow referencing all the polyrhythms of the mix at once but by charting a course down the middle of the groove without playing too straight. This disc gets better as it goes along, with the tracks stretching out in length to accommodate all the ideas, and Mulvenaa laying out on some Tony Allen-style, jazzy Afrobeat influences. Nothing will set the dance floor alight but Heavy International would pick up the pace of any house party. (Aesthetics)