Sunday, January 15, 2012

REVIEW// Covered Faces: LObiep EP

      You may be looking with bewilderment at the cover of this EP, staring with eyebrows raised at the gradient and the pasted mask, and the abrasive red letters that stab and curl with permanent snarls. I admit that it isn't the best thing we've ever seen, but the sounds that lie behind such unimpressive facade are most definitely a vast improvement. The work of producer Pablo Lázaro Vidal, 'LObiep' is his debut EP under the dark moniker Covered Faces. The music is suitably anonymous, the main emotion seeping from behind those cut-out holes being the raw throbbing anger of uncontested rebellion. 'Electronic death punk' reads the EP's label, the five consequent tracks pondering this statement and all of its connotations. Video game soundtracks and horror movies and a multitude of other influences rear their ugly heads to do so, envisaged via chiptune melodies and out-of-place pop sensibilities. A transfixing, hypnotic quality to every track overrides all else, often dark and terrifying, but never constantly so. Interludes of quiet, euphoric celebration simmer beneath the surface, peeking wide-eyed and innocent through the thrashing electronic riffs and furrowed brows that dominate the sonic sky. Despite the art and caption 'LObiep' is often brilliantly joyous!
    Opening the EP is 'Killing Time', a number that contradicts its name with childish charm! A pacey electronic beat is soon met by an airy and care-free melody that in turn, beckons forth vocals, muffled and confused by the sheer speed of the three minutes in which they reside. A contrastingly slow finish plays out like a lullaby, an attenuated melody swirling to a triumphant end. 'Abandoned Dogma' follows with skewed samples from Jessica White. A medley of apocalyptic whirrs and hums and drones progress like the elated end to a sci-fi battle sequence. 'Stroppy's steady production line grinds and clanks along, photocopier- esque scanners beeping and buzzing with unnervingly conscious glee. The smile-inducing precision and order of it all is broken by a rogue robot's dash for freedom. Alarms sound and the rough synths of security groan. High and playful, the little robots little lungs pump electrons through a delicate body, emitting beautifully complex phrases of an unparalleled prowess. Sophie Nadaud's vocal contribution to 'Carving Knife' is spectacular too. Fuelled by reverb and an almost theatrically manic aesthetic, her two faces flicker and blur with an uncontrollable stacticity. Psychologically scarred, mocking sneers meet teary-eyed break- downs, her voice drawing closer to murder with every second. It's a truly terrifying number.
     Inconsistency is the fault I have with many an unsigned EP. 'LObiep' is no different. As the aggressive beats and fluctuating notes of 'Don´t Stop Bitch!' fade away, I sit back and contemplate what I've heard. Upbeat offsetting slow offsetting angry offsetting exultation. I found the experience while short, also slightly incoherent, a quality that makes it not much of an experience at all. As a debut however, I congratulate Covered Faces with adulation! Stream 'Stroppy' below and if you like the sounds on it, download the full EP for free here!