A couple of years ago I found myself in the basement of a Berlin bar watching a young band called Mushi Features work their way through a set of charged, intense, doomy rock and riot grrrl sensibility. Bands change, people come and go, the sound evolves but when Murmur Tooth’s new e.p. popped up on my radar, it wasn’t too hard to see the dotted line that connects the two bands.
This four-track release has all the same core ingredients but now the sound is slicker, better defined, more cohesive. It still splices doom-laden grunge with more spikey resonances, 90’s alt-rock with a dark, gothic vibe but there is a latent ferocity that comes not from the speed of the delivery, the dynamic or the volume, but which is less tangible, a primal power that lurks at the heart of the songs, a tribal, shamanistic force which hovers between the notes and in the spaces between the lyrics.
Waste Away in particular sounds like the play out music for a disturbing horror movie, a dark waltz, the last dance, the exit music that takes you from one world to the next, but even the more accessible sound of opener Knees Are Clean feels slightly fractious and unsettling.
Music doesn’t always have to be an easy sell. Challenges are good, comfort zones promote complacency and Murmur Tooth seem to have found a way to combine familiar musical references with a wonderfully new and often unnerving feeling. This is music to play with the doors locked, the lights on and you will probably feel like having a shower afterwards.