Review: Triple Negative – God Bless the Death Drive (Penultimate Press, Mar 12)

Precious Waste in Our Wake, the mysterious UK collective Triple Negative’s debut LP from last year, was and is many things: one of my favorite releases of 2019, the oddest and most compelling contemporary remnant of circa-1980 avant-rock explorations, a fittingly surreal soundtrack to our progressively deteriorating society and world. God knows what sort of headspace these mysterious magic-molders place themselves in to create this bizarre and befuddling music, but there seems to be no shortage in its supply because another full-length declaration has already surfaced less than a year later. When God Bless the Death Drive is said to “literally [take] off where… Precious Waste in our Wake finished,” it’s pretty much accurate; the mastering is louder and clearer, and “Bad Grace” begins with a propulsive, bouncing gallop of minimal percussion and blown-out vocalizing that does contrast with the drugged-out lethargy of the grooves on its predecessor, but listen to the two back to back and the momentum transfer is undeniable—”MERCURIAL SEAL / SINKINGSINKING SUNK” and “Bad Grace,” despite sounding markedly different, continue into one another. It’s a nice touch that meaningfully links the albums despite the new direction that God Bless takes. With bone-dry guitar tones and dusty, windswept percussion recordings, songs like “Bad Emotional Investments” become worn, sun-cracked psychedelic ballads, while the apocalyptic strings and winds on “Pugno Di Mosche” and distant churn of “Low Noon” allow some of the familiar smog to seep in. A soothing accordion and intimate vocals even make “Fine Cargo Lacquer”—dare I say—pretty. The level of coherence across God Bless the Death Drive is variable, to say the least, and this range makes it even more difficult to fully digest. The three-track stretch of “See It Slay It Sordid,” “Nag Head’s Spools,” and “Your Pretty Mental Health…” alone is a dense Twin Infinitivestier conundrum. At first I found myself thinking, well this is not what I expected, but I quickly realized that’s a stupid thing to even consider when Triple Negative is at work. As Mark Harwood states, you can always rely on their music to possess a “robust fear of the predictable.”

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