ALBUM REVIEW: Insect Ark – Raw Blood Singing

On Raw Blood Singing (Debemur Morti Productions), Insect Ark returns with an otherworldly and compelling sci-fi landscape of noir, subtle menace and mystery.  

In the great pantheon of criminally underrated and overlooked bands, a place must be reserved for Bee And Flower (the cinematic, mysterious and long-defunct Rock band fronted by Dana Schechter (Swans)

Calling time on the group, Schechter formed Insect Ark (initially as a solo project), leaned into the darker sonic aspects of her former band and (more or less) stopped singing. 

This conscious decision to remove the overtly-human dimension of the music by taking away her voice comes to an end on the latest record. On Raw Blood Singing, Schechter is singing again (on four of the album’s eight tracks) and it’s a joy to hear her dark, smooth croon complement the already expressive instrumental world of Insect Ark. 

The first line from Schechter (on second track “The Frozen Lake”) being a seemingly-dispassionate “I killed a man” should give some indication of the cold, dark tone of the album. The feeling behind her words throughout the album has a kind of ambiguity, leaving the listener unsure of the intent. 

There’s a kind of dreamlike quality, also in the music. The tempo is slow, like a somnambulist’s march. The music could almost resemble Doom Metal, if the delivery weren’t much more subtle. 

Drummer Tim Wyskida (also of deconstructed-Metal-nightmare-machine Khanate) is a perfect foil for Schechter, able to come in with bursts of power, or lurk in the shadows with scuttling rhythms, as the music requires. 

Schechter, for her part, contributes bass, lap steel, guitars, synthesisers and piano (in addition to the singing). Nowhere is the full sonic palette of the band deployed more artfully than on the awesome, gothic majesty of “Youth Body Swayed.”

An eerie piano line sets the tone of the track, which gradually uncoils like black smoke over seven minutes, with Wyskida playing like he’s beating a man to death, drawn out across a thousand slow blows, and Schechter singing like life broke her heart and she fit every piece back together and fused them with iron. 

It’s hard to find a suitable musical category to pin on Raw Blood Singing. It isn’t Metal; calling it Rock probably gives the wrong impression, the mood and tone often brings to mind the Trip-Hop of a band like Massive Attack, but “cinematic” ultimately ends up feeling like the most apt descriptor. The cinema of David Lynch’s Lost Highway, or if David Bowie emerged from a dream and remade The Man Who Fell To Earth today. Space Rock on the dark side of the moon, in black and silver. 

With the band having existed for so long as an instrumental entity, the vocal-less parts are no less impactful, with tracks like “Inverted Whirlpool” evoking alien terrains of crystalised mountains and lakes of mercury with hypnotic drum patterns, brooding bass, mournfully gliding guitars and inter-dimensional synths flying overhead.

Raw Blood Singing is the kind of dream state you might not wake up from, beguiling as it pulls you down into a moon-lit pool. 


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9 / 10