Drahla return with an avant-garde documentation of the past five years 

It has been a long five years since Leeds-based art-rock experimentalists Drahla released their debut album, Useless Coordinates – we even managed to fit a global pandemic in since then. Tomorrow, they return with their long-awaited second full-length effort, angeltape, released via Captured Tracks.

Recorded throughout 2023, the album serves as a documentation of the events, good and bad, that unfolded in Drahla’s professional and personal lives during the five-year gap since Useless Coordinates, reflected in the controlled chaos of each track. Driven by erratic saxophones courtesy of long-standing collaborator Chris Duffin and off-kilter guitars which are darker and more complex than ever before, owing to new guitarist Ewan Barr, Drahla’s sound is able to leave a more lasting impact on the listener than ever before, with Barr fulfilling a role that, in retrospect, feels like it was lacking on Useless Coordinates when you return to it.

Opening cut ‘Under The Glass’ bridges the gap between past and present, literally as well as musically, by reworking early ideas from 2020 and incorporating them with newer ones, before lead single ‘Default Parody’ sees Drahla shaking off the restraints of their previous roles and embracing this new era of the band, where additional guitars provide the freedom of interplay.

Meanwhile, ‘Zig Zag’ sees the band fully flexing their instrumental muscles, driven by guitars for the first minute of the track rather than the vocals. In complete contrast, ‘Second Rhythm’ relies entirely on vocals and drums alone for almost the same length of time.

‘Concrete Lily’ is perhaps the most upbeat cut on angeltape in terms of instrumentation, with long, drawn out saxophone notes at the forefront during the interludes between verses. Then comes the chant-like, repetitive introduction of ‘Lip Sync’, before the vocals break out of their natural spoken word rhythm with unexpected but welcome inflections. This track also features the most unpredictable instrumental on the record. The instruments stop-start throughout, leaving impactful momentary silences at intervals, keeping the listener alert and on their toes.

You may be forgiven for thinking ‘Venus’ is the closing track of the album on first listen, since it is the one and only change of pace on angeltape. Slow, dreamy keys bring the track into existence, before almost as quickly easing it back into oblivion again after less than two minutes, with no signs of vocals or any other instruments present. But then, one of the hardest hitting moments on the album, ‘Grief in Phantasia’, comes around without any warning signs, with its momentous five-minute runtime. ‘What happens all the time, is not what happens all the time…,’ vocalist Luciel Brown near-whispers repeatedly throughout the first half, before becoming louder and more purposeful as the track progresses.

On angeltape, Brown’s melodic spoken delivery is, for the most part, pretty comparable to Useless Coordinates, but it is able to find new ways to meld with the instrumentation here, exploring the reccurring themes of grief and trauma over the more multifaceted layers of driving bass riffs and charged drum patterns. Drahla’s reluctance to stick to one formula or structure here reveals how complete and inspired they feel within this era of the band; angeltape presents a clear image of a group who are rejuvenated and reconnected by the addition of a new member and the life experiences they have gained over the past half-decade.

Haiku Review:
A record of their
Life experiences in
The past half-decade

Pre-save / pre-order Drahla ‘s new record, angeltape, right here.

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