Band: Golden Apes
Hometown: Berlin Germany
Label: AF Music
So after returning from Germany it’s time to get back to writing reviews. This one is crucial to me as this album was my constant companion while i walked the streets of Berlin. It’s one of those records that has become perfectly ingrained in my mind with a beautiful moment in time. It takes a lot to surprise me at 41, hearing everything I have heard, seeing the bands I have seen. Every so often you stumble on a band like Golden Apes and stand jaw agape thinking how has no one ever thought to do this? Because this album is something different. It comes at you in subtle ways, familiar ways, until that moment you look around and realize you are somewhere else you haven’t been before.
This record is so full of tiny changes in instrument and sound, but they don’t build all at once. For each new voice added another falls away and it creates this brilliant sense of movement and variance. What stood out so effectively was how many elements were added but instead of the modern trend of letting them pile on top of each other until it becomes mud, instead something was subtracted each time. It kept the songs so crisp, clear, and efficient. This has a great deal to do with the drums which are doing things so far out of the box for modern post punk music that it makes me both think this band has left the genre and at other times that they are blazing the path for it’s future. KASBEK is a mountain in the heart of the Caucasus. A place where Prometheus gave fire to man and earned a lifetime of torture for his trouble. That theme of sacrifice for knowledge keeps coming back the more I spin these songs and goes a long way towards framing the lens of these stories. Because that is what this album is, a series of stories told around a fire that tell a history leading towards this moment.
Lets talk vocals a moment. Peer has a voice full of power and soul which fills the bursting chaos of this music and gives it a human face. It is rich and forceful without charging to the front. these songs don’t need an impressive vocalists to show their quality, but they have one. It really completes the effect and bring a uniqueness that allows you to focus on all the gentle notes happening and still hold your ear with a memorable power.
Christian’s playing is inspired and has such varied style. It’s the type of song writing that plays with familiar themes and keeps finding new places to reach within the cracks. This is not a new band, they have been making quality albums since 1998 and I am mad at myself for just finding it. However there is something wonderful in discovering a band that has several strong albums later in their career after an evolution where you get to work backwards through their progression and take the journey in reverse.
This album covers so much ground in terms of emotional evocation and stylistic movement that choosing best tracks is a chore. I have had moments where i fell deeply in love with every song on this record for different reasons. To me that says this is a record to have an in depth relationship with. That is a magnificent feat in the modern era.
Oblivion – A 6 minute single, in 2019. Who does that? This band and it works beautifully. This song is the optima of what I described. Adding pieces, taking them away. Creating motion. These drums have a beautiful tribal intensity with a Martin Hannett clarity of production. Peer drives through the build with a dense sustained baritone that paints a scene of hopeless abandon. I can’t stop listening, it’s a modern classic.
Deliverance – Ok of course I love a song called Deliverance for anyone who knows Amaranth. This song is gentle and beautiful with a Chameleons riff and flow with a building tension that culminates in a beautiful chorus that contains the power of Joy Division “Atmosphere”. Understand the power of that statement. Bands can’t just achieve something of that impact in the modern era but this song has done just that.
Clouds Silver Lining – Holy shit this song has the swelling power of a minimalist Bach chamber song. “I cut my tongue with your silver lies, suddenly i feel all the love, and so i see you” To reach this level of emotion and beauty at such a reserved tempo is the true calling of dark music and this song builds to a sky shattering crescendo that opens minds and ears. Breathtaking and brilliant by the sum of it’s parts.
Berlin left me changed. The power of artistic expression and the blood in the stones of this city are present in the people here. Hearing Golden Apes it is impossible to not feel that connection and this album is a true modern day opus. I am at a loss to express how important it is you discover this record and understand the connection Berlin has with this style of music. Golden Apes can make that real for you from whatever place in the world you are sitting. Take this journey with me from this new album all the way back through 20 years of great music.