Rex roars into life on swells of distorted ferocity. As the seconds pass, it becomes clearer and clearer that the music of S ND Y P RL RS (Sunday Parlours) is not just void of vowels that have been visibly erased; the music is also eclipsed in the unseen. Flickering, slightly ominous shadows are fused with caressing walls of feedback in the extreme, but the shrieking levels of distortion can also feel tamed and shockingly emotional too, on the verge of a distorted breakdown. Malte Cornelius Jantzen’s guitar carries threatening tints as well as a tempting touch, as ferocious as a Great White Shark’s savage bite dulled by heavy doses of morphine. Rex‘s distorted guitars open up unyielding chasms of pitch black wounds, ready for any impending, seismic detonation. Yet, with all the extreme levels of feedback, Rex demonstrates a softer side too, and it is, perhaps to everyone’s surprise, quite an emotional one.
Rex is a deep immersion that swerves over the barriers between the shadows of shoegaze, noise and drone. It’s a darker transformation of these styles, mutated and resembling the twenty-first century; of innocence lost in a densely forested woodland, left over from the 1990′s and now polluted in uncertain times. Chord transitions are clouded in a murky mist, indistinct in their high levels of reverb, but still sharp enough to be considered a dangerous blade. A ghost of a harmony is audible enough to pull the distorted waves closer to their musical chain. In some places, the feedback feels wildly uncontrolled, let off the leash and smashing through the space, pounding around us. Similarly, the guitars feel like they’re living on the edge between euphoria and wiped-out dejection.
The ghostly melodic fuzz and distant vocals that trail across the ether in “Twentyfour”, and the conventional song structure (although slightly longer than any traditional song) reveals the affectionate roots of shoegaze hidden inside. Despite the roaring guitars, they are still treated lovingly with care, and some morph into songs in their own right, with out of focus but thoughtfully arranged songwriting pounding through the black smoke. Even though the tone might appear lost in the heavy reverb, the guitar is deep and consistently brewing up melodies and harmonies with an intoxicating, frothing intensity.
Rex also displays somewhat of a split personality; the buried chords and melodies also exhibit an emotional side, as in “The Other Hand Is Good”, where even a fragment of a solo haunts the space next to the wounded area, weeping tears of melancholy. Sensitively, it flirts with despondency and calmly tames the feedback arising from the pickups and the sharp strings. It is an effective track, feeling close to crystal clear despite the overloads of distortion. It also shows that S ND Y P RL RS have more than one angle to choose from, and in fact the extreme covering of distortion induces a false sense of security, because there is actually a strong harmonic presence cloaked within, waiting to be found.
Out in the distorted woodland, the song forms help to find our path back, away from the spirals of noise and tremendous fog among the cluttered roots and dense foliage, and towards a semblance of structure before it gets too dark. The result is an intriguing listen. Vicious and caressing, the distortion cuts the air as sharp as thin protruding branches. Rex is more like The Blair Witch Project than a stroll in the woods, like an invisible, sinister presence trailing after us, dirtied with a realism which grounds the music in the soil of the earth. Nearing the end, “Give” and “Take” wrap up in each other like twisted trees shaped in a lovers’ embrace.
Rex has become lost in the woods with the light approaching night, haunting us like the after hours of a strange and vivid dream. Rex is a thick tyrannosaur of oozing sludge and harmonious noise stomping down dark passages, hiding jagged edges waiting to be unearthed. It may not be too far away from a small, quiet Maryland town, one whose evidence is all around us, etched in stone. The darkness of Rex slowly becomes impenetrable in the rocky night. (James Catchpole)