Caudal – Ascension (2014)

As we all know, the hardest substance known to man is groove. Berlin band Caudal build their colossal mountain of sound on a groove so vast and steel reinforced you would need dynamite by the tonne to stop them in their tracks.

Over 40 minutes long but consisting just 3 tracks, Caudal’s album Ascension lives up to its name, taking the listener higher and higher into a realm of total submission.

caudal cover

Let’s start with ‘Uprise’ (click to listen) …

Imagine Joy Division’s ‘Shadowplay’ boiled down to a groove then served with a gusto that makes Hawkwind look like daisy pickin’ hippies.

The bass is surprisingly subtle and mellow; it soothes as it much as it slams. Yet the unrelenting charge of the groove is irresistible. The guitar offers chiming, sharp signals; not riffs but carefully balanced transmissions.

Past 8 minutes and the groove is beginning to wane, struggling to maintain momentum as the guitar takes control with waves of effects; shimmering and colliding, strobing, power overload. At 10 minutes, dreamy desolation. Shoegaze torpor. From a Slowdive swirl, jazzy drums operate on the periphery. We’re adrift, no sign of an end. Then, past 14 minutes… bass is spotted, offering succour and providing a course to pastures new. Slowly the guitar regains its strength and grows again; it’s simplicity providing yet more power to the rejuvenated bottom end.

‘Slow Bow’ is a bit more sunshine and love. Taking its cues from the ambient end (i.e. the Brian Eno end) of krautrock. a fragile jangling guitar takes the lead, not a million miles away from a ketamine version of the guitar on Crowded House’s ‘Weather With You’ (no, seriously). There’s also a plaintiff hint of The Durutti Column and the pagan psych of The Blue Orchids.

Constantly dissolving and nebulous; all manner of wafting oddities drop by for your attention. In some respects, the album shares some qualities with the soundtrack to the movie Master & Commander, where classical bombast meets forlorn listlessness. The mysterious noises presented by the guitar and it’s pedal board grown and grow until all that remains is a miasma; trying to discern identifiable shapes in a blizzard of static.

‘451S2’ continues the album’s jellyfish-like journey until life returns.  Drums kick back in with a clattering 4/4, the bass is deep and thudding, hard and chunky as earthenware. This tracks clocks in at under 6 minutes. rather a paltry amount considering the length of its brother tracks, making this more of an outro piece.

Caudal have a F1 engine where a rhythm section should be. Combining the power and dynamism of space rock with the sleek fluidity of motorik, this is everything a growing boy needs.

A remarkable journey through space. Purchase your ticket immediately.


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