Lakes – Spring Torch (Cassette)

If you thought Lakes as a one man band was heavy enough for you, prepare for brain exfoliation. Recorded in March 2012 with Lee Parker on drums and Simon Taylor on bass, this is probably the most direct and pummeling Lakes record yet, so it’s kinda sad that as a live record, fewer people are probably going to hear it. The opening track is Lakes’ first ARIA contender: ‘Blood of the Groves’ (which is from a forthcoming LP, I believe) sees Sean Bailey move away from his usual, harried vocal delivery into something almost elemental. It’s like someone shoved a trunk down his esophagus just to free up more room for vocalising.

With the shackles of live solo duties axed away, Lakes sounds less reclusive and forbidding, and more like one of the weirdest punk bands you ever did hear. For someone who’s only ever seen him play alone, the contrast provided on this release is alarming and incredible. Even relatively orthodox renditions of ‘Crossed With Leaves’ (from the 7 inch of that name) and ‘Hidden Sun’ (from 2011’s Winter’s Blade) sound less fraught with tension and more concerned with some kind of physical release. Either this was an especially smoking night for The Lakes Band or Bailey really needs to adopt these blokes full time.

Though maybe not. For an artist whose records chart ever-so-slight changes in a very unique sensibility, it’s probably not so much the group effort that drives this record but more the unusual translation of a determinedly personal project into something a bit bigger. As Bailey told me in an interview a couple of years ago, getting other people involved in Lakes has always been off-bounds. Whether he’s opted to further explore this discomfort zone on his forthcoming LP or not, Spring Torch is an interesting and – importantly – pretty damn incredible document of what happens when you drag a recluse from his cave and make him play with the other kids.

Label: Pretentious Tapes
Release Date: October 2012

New Music

Listen: Lakes – Hidden Sun (Live)

Sean Bailey’s back-catalogue is slowly turning into one of those unwieldy beasts that may intimidate the uninitiated or vaguely curious, but you shouldn’t feel that way, honestly, because his work is worth following closely. It’s because Lakes is pretty much its own thing in a way that very few other bands/artists are: just pick up one record and give it at least three spins (because his records are slow to bud) and Bailey’s rather grating vocals will just suddenly make sense. It’s a challenge worth rising to.

So, yeah, a live cassette is probably something only diehards are going to go in for, but judging from cursory listens (full review soon) the fidelity is top quality for a live release, and in some ways it’s kinda cleaner than his LPs: the guitar melodies during ‘Hidden Sun’ (from Winter’s Blade, 2011) are very crisp indeed. It’s from Spring Torch, which is a new Pretentious Tapes release which you can order now.