Ever wondered what a Zelda game would sound like on ketamine? Then Bitemarks is for you. Released in 2010 by The Goner, ostensibly the vehicle of Daniel Westurlund, this EP is a dark, devilish delight for long, winter nights.
Most comfortably categorised as post rock, Bitemarks is still a long way from the orchestral loud / quiet that has now become the cliché of the genre and the multitude of Sigur Ros knock-offs. The Goner prefer to concentrate on using organs and keyboards to provide the textures and intensely strummed acoustic guitars to add the drama. The music is highly repetitive, to work its ideas slowly into your subconscious.
Title track ‘Bitemarks’ starts with two acoustic guitars dancing around the bass before skittering into a higher tempo. Downbeat, defeated vocals are brought in, along with delicate strings. ‘Penny Rimbaud’ is a one minute slice of folk musings, descending carefully into the epic ‘Lost Summer’. This eight minute tracks begins with droning organs that paints a picture of a lost forest populated with elves and sprites. Slowly, extra elements such as wind-chime percussion are introduced. Deep into the sixth minute guitars take the reins and the organs are reduced to grumbling backseat drivers. ‘Vilsharad’ is another one minute segue between songs. Finally ‘Oakmulgee Creek’ picks up with the pace with time-for-battle drums and the kind of thumping, ominous bass you normally hear in Hollywood trailers. Stabs of what appears to be a sitar offers light in the gloom. Towards the end synthesised birdsongs appears. At first this comes across as rather cliched, and also jars the mood as the EP is sketching winter not summer. However, the two bird sounds are repeated over and over for two minutes, which becomes a fascinating coda.
Altogether this EP conjures images of a mystical, medieval world. A highly evocative blend of post rock and pagan folk, this is the musical equivalent of a whisky by the fireside of a country pub. An intriguing little world to get lost in with a book. All rather magical.
See also: review of Westurlund’s solo project E-Gone’s excellent All The Suns Of The Earth