Anglo-Greek duo Erika Bach and Barry Snaith’s debut album is an unflinching exploration of the dark side of desire.
It comes as no surprise that the pair are highly skilled visual artists as m1nk = em one en kay (geddit?) is richly cinematic, if difficult to define.
Imagine Bjork and Tricky taking a wrong turn down a poorly lit side street in Berlin’s Kurfürstenstrasse and you might be getting somewhere close.
Many of the songs are sparse and unsettling, as if they’ve been written and then all but the bare bones stripped away – with only a skeletal melody to guide you through.
What appears confusing at first becomes increasingly clear with repeated listens as the instrumental breaks fall into place like building blocks.
Bach’s voice knits the whole thing together, sometimes aggressive and confident, sometimes vulnerable and plaintive.
Snaith, the multi-instrumentalist who also goes by the moniker of The Inconsistent Jukebox, creates brooding sensual soundscapes, painting pictures in your mind’s eye.
A lot is achieved with seemingly very little, a bit of upright bass here, a few piano notes there, a sudden Psycho–style injection of discordant strings.
His guitars on Drain You, for example, sound like blood trickling down a bath tub plughole, while ice cold electronica gives Halo Effect an air of distant longing.
Standout track Psycho Erotic sees the duo at their most wanton, Snaith’s bestial guitars like a wolf pawing at the floor, while Bach purrs “He gets me all fired up, and hot and hot!”.
Blimey, pass the smelling salts!
Bach’s vocals have an air of Teutonic cool – Dietrich, by way of Nico and Nina Hagen, if you like, but there’s plenty of fire too and an overt sexuality reminiscent of Lydia Lunch.
There are shades of The Birthday Party and even The Velvet Underground in places, but for the most part this is an album that defies comparison.
Album closer Drown sounds like nothing else on the record, an ominous, weird Icelandic-sounding folk chant that builds a sense of dread.
A mini epic Scandi-drama, not unlike the Ave Satani incantation in The Omen, it leaves you in little doubt that something wicked this way comes.
Like arthouse cinema, m1nk won’t be to everyone’s taste, but give this album the attention it deserves and you will be richly rewarded.
- M1nk = Em One En Kay is out now on digital and vinyl via Seja Records on this link.
- For more about m1nk visit their website here.