Review of No 2: Abyss In B Minor Album by Serena Maneesh

This could quite conceivably be someones worst nightmare. Their vision made real through an audio manifestation. A post apocalyptic dystopia where the Sun is barely visible, few plants and animals exist and the only colours that you see are black and grey. Civilisation as you knew it is a dim and distant memory. Pollution is rife, air quality has ceased to have meaning and life has little worth.

Conversely it could just be your idea of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. A masterful celebration of sound, that far from offending your ears, actually stimulates and excites your sonic senses. An intriguing, exploratory journey into the possibilities that may or may not constitute 'popular' music.

Interesting and challenging music with artistic merit, or just a dreadful noise?

No 2: Abyss In B Minor is Serena Maneesh's follow up to their eponymous debut album. At the time of its release they received mixed reviews, Mojo Magazine said 'More kitchen sink than sonic cathedral'. The band had, and still do to some degree, draw on the influence of My Bloody Valentine and depending on who you read this can be used as both a compliment and a criticism. However, Serena's sound has evolved and matured to give a slightly less raw and abrasive feel. The industrial template and sometimes harrowing soundscapes are evident but the mix is more harmoniously contrived and produced to give a subtlety to proceedings.

Serena Maneesh No 2: Abyss In B Minor Album

No 2 opens up with a fabulously neo-gothic concerto of sound in Ayisha Abyss. This piece of music would not be out of place accompanying Rick Deckard as he chases down one more replicant through the mutilated streets of LA. It's X-Mal Deutschland meet Cindytalk to perform 'Everybody Is Christ', complete with a just audible vocal that sounds as if your hearing it through a load speaker on the Underground whilst your at surface level. Switching emphasis almost completely, the recent free download single, 'I Just Want To See Your Face' follows swiftly on. A rapid fire Alt/Pop Indie tune drenched in distorted guitars and full of fuzz. (Think Jesus & Mary Chain with a female vocal). 'Reprobate!' carries on in a similar vain, with further feedback and an ever quickening drum beat. Melodies and soft layered tones take over on the haunting and mesmeric 'Melody For Jaana'. More twisted and tangled metallic fragments are juxtaposed with the soft and faintly sung vocal of Hilma Nikolaisen to great effect on 'Honey Jinx'. It's like the anticipation and trepidation of a gathering storm that threatens but never quite breaks. Finally 'Magdalena (Symphony #8) soothes the mood with a gentle, almost folksy, pop song, fabulously out of place and yet fittingly obscure.

Abyss In B Minor, whilst not necessarily an easy listen, is ultimately a rewarding one. The intensity of the album is what is most striking. Emil Nikolaisen, the multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and lynchpin of the band has obviously honed and developed his skills over the past 5 years to make Serena Maneesh a more focused outfit. 4AD, their new label, was the obvious spiritual home for them. The band have certainly benefited from the partnership and the results are nearly all great. Performing in London in March and then on to America and SXSW....

Andrew Lockwood

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