There are a hundred things about this album and the band that make me want to laugh (heartily, and for more than minute) at exactly how preposterous they are. But I’m also worried that I might like them.
Even before I’d put the disc into the player, the press release had me chuckling in anticipation of being brought into, “an aristocratic limbo… dense of silent messages and thin vibrations.” I can understand now entirely why punks wanted so much to smash prog rock and everything it stood for. Unfortunately I quite like prog rock too.
But I’m not 100% convinced that this actually is prog rock. There are lots of samples of sitars and electronic wind chime noises and some parrots and monkeys (I’m not making this up) and Italian ladies breathy intonations and stuff. It seems to me to prog in all but practice. In reality, we’re looking at a sound closer to a slower burning; less industrial and more ethereal Nine Inch Nails. There’s some whispering and some toy box noises that wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack to a gothic Alice in Wonderland computer game.
And then there’s the feeling that you’re listening to a pair of power-metallers and their raven-haired girlfriend, raised on Journey and Scorpions, pretending to be Cocteau Twins or Brian Eno. It’s a confusing experience. You constantly expect every crescendo to build to a point where it crescends into some ballsy riffage, or to collapse into the ambient freakage it promises.
Ultimately Dismal go nowhere. Maybe that’s what aristocratic limbo is.