Black Dough - 'Freaky Family'
After a pretty comprehensive but probably overlong review of the fantastic 'The School Book Depository' album, I don't intend to go into (quite) as much detail for the 'Black Dough' release 'Freaky Family', but the Swedish band have produced something which is equally diverse and interesting, even though it's certainly not as easy listening. 'Freaky Family' is the bands debut album, it follows on from a well received EP which was released 3 years ago, and it brings together influences from many genres to create something which can definitely be classed as 'experimental rock'. I don't like doing too many comparisons, but for regular readers it's straying slightly into the territory of bands like 'Water Boogie System', but with a solid alternative rock base - influences perhaps from bands like 'The Breeders' or even 'Sonic Youth'.
The album opens with 'Nighty Night' and a ghoulish warped glimpse of Brahms famous 'Wiegenlied' lullaby (I think), before Miranda Raeder vocals kick in, and immediately we get a feel for the strength of her songwriting - which is the dark visions expressed through her music. This is all helped by intense and sometimes unconventional song writing structures - in the case of 'Nighty Night', achieved through the dramatic slow downs in the tempo. 'Moldy Growth' is a brooding track which explodes into life with guitars and drums (a real highlight throughout the album), before saxophone takes over the theme and then all the instruments are thrown together in a fervent conclusion - beating out the main musical theme through to the end of the track, which is almost 8 minutes long.
'Fire' opens darkly, drums strike out impassioned rhythms, before cleverly switching to a striking and almost orthodox sounding chorus, which is then only used once before the drums take over the track once again. I like the lyrics in 'Changes' in particular, whilst the 'The Well' is a mammoth, almost intimidating track, an emotional journey portrayed through the discordant instrumentation. But my favourite track is 'Constant Contact', an almost fragile vocal opening, with a hint of Bjork, before a huge main musical theme is belted out - and there is so much subtle detail to like amongst the full 7 minutes of noise.
'Freaky Family' undoubtedly takes some listening to, but as I've listened more, I've been drawn into the mesmerizing drum beats and howling vocals and lyrics. The album is only 7 tracks, but it's a weighty release, a seven course meal where the soup is as thick as stew, and the pudding actually a huge Yorkshire Pudding, filled with meat and gravy. But I wouldn't want to give the impression it is indecipherable, or too much to digest, this is an album which does mostly make sense, and it's packed too full of diverse influences and interesting musical textures. Most Nordic bands traditionally seem to write and record albums from a quaint barn on some beautiful Scandinavian landscape, but Black Dough seem to have headed deep into the core of the Earth to record 'Freaky Family', and the result is fairly extraordinary.
Nordic Music Review 8/10