Definitely not failing though…
I got my A-levels back today and, to save the embarassment, I’m not as successful as I’d’ve hoped. Ah well, life goes on, numbers and letters aren’t my worth, yada-yada (better write that hit song smartish though). In a cruel little twist of fate, however, the album I’ve been bopping as of late, the very same album that I’m reviewing today, is entitled “Not Passing”. Now, though it is meant in the other way within the context of the record, something about that seems like Erys or Apollo or any of the other gods that André 3000 mentions in his lyrics has interfered and is taking the piss.
But I’m okay with that really, because it means more time with this little gem. Comfort (or “comfort” if were going by the vernacular) are, from what I can gather, a Glaswegian duo (I think siblings but I could be wrong) who, on this, their debut album and follow-up to 2017’s Built to Waste EP, has already carved a frighteningly unique sonic niché within the post-punk, industrial noise and experimental electronic genres. You can hear this immediately on here, with Sean’s crashing, skittish and offbeat drum patterns propping up the gelataneously-versatile and always somehow eerily sanitised and unapologetically grimey electronics, courtesy of Natalie, who also provides the deranged vocals.
comfort’s music finds itself erring on the edge of indescribable for me. While the wild, eclectic vocals could draw comparison to black midi (another set of 2019 heroes) and the rackety manufactured-sounding instrumentals almost echo some of the more chaotic moments on Matmos’ recent Plastic Anniversary, there is a repetition and violent urgency that sets Not Passing apart from both of these artists. As a trans woman, Natalie channels a lot of the heated frustration that comes with such an experience into calloused humour and a vocal delivery that is piercing enough to grab and hold your attention but also with a disappointed monotony that screams “I’ve told you this hundreds of times before”. You can see this persistently in tracks such as Better Need Assumptions and the title track. This results in her being a transifixing narrator, in similar way to what we’ve seen from bands like IDLES, really conjuring up hatred of tedium, and releasing it as this blunt object of common sense — assaulting the listener as such.
That said, that monotony also materialises itself into Not Passing‘s only major pitfall; repetition. While, the album only being 20 minutes, there’s not enough runtime for it to become remotely grating, if comfort were ever planning on releasing a commerical-length album, there’d have to be a wider instrumental palette as well as some tempo and arrangement changes to keep me fully engaged. Namely, while Sean’s drumming is more than enough to lull me into an anxious slumbered groove, I find the beats on this to be overly similar more often that not.
On the other hand, the duo, even within the definitely comfortable (aha) sonic nook that they’ve etched out, find enough room to add some minimal but noticeable variety in the sound, be it the whining drones of Calm of the Crowd or haunting moans of the aforementioned Better Need Assumptions.
Overall, comfort’s debut “full-length” (it’s 20 minutes long) is a fascinating release. In an underground alternative scene becoming populated by more and more electronically-tinted industrial noise and post-punk acts, the Glaswegian duo managed to stand out with a tight-set of nightmarish but genuinely boppy tirades against a society who still has its qualms with people’s basic right to exist. As the band continues to grow and add more variety to their sound, I can very much see comfort becoming one of the most talked-about underground acts in a few years.
Lots of hugs, kisses and lacerations