Purple Heart Parade


More often than not, when a band attempts to surgically graft differing influences together, the difficulty in pulling it off can present a scenario of grave inconsistency. Typically, the final product emerges as a badly rearranged skeletal entity, the kind of which would be best left in some remote, poorly lit cave complex. Yet in Blanketman’s case, they appear to do quite the opposite, almost instinctively blending their sound into a coherent, worthwhile appeal that manages to evade the looming guillotine of derivation.

They open their set with this transcendent-like guitar sound (I’m afraid I don’t know what it is), which led me for some reason to envision the Dalai Lama himself emerging from the fire escape and joining in on a few guest numbers (didn’t happen), only to then be taken aback by the unrelenting cymbal clamouring, adding a hypnotic, almost concussive element to the hearing experience. In tandem with the drumming comes the bassline, with its crunchy fluidity dictating the ship’s course with a rash impunity; if Geezer Butler stole the rest of Sabbath’s coke stash and decided to ingest it all in one, you’d get a rough idea about what I am on about. In the present dynamic, the vocals are the only vaguely reassuring quality, as if they are being propelled to the top of a pyramid, away from the emerging instrumental floodplain.

A sudden reduction from the intensity occurs around the middle of their set; they tap into a somewhat more gentle, less immediate kind of style; a ballet perhaps? The evident lack of bass and minimalist drumming in support of the guitar work is almost a nod back to the 60’s, a welcomed move I suspect. Of course this grace period swiftly ends, as the following song’s bass and drums return to old form, though this time it appears the guitar and vocals are attempting to reason with a rapidly descending steamroller.

Throughout it all, a display of varied lyrical subject matter appears to be the bonding agent that their fans can sink their teeth into; anything from daytime TV, the pains of 9 to 5 and even the esteemed bat and ball game we all know as cricket? I suppose reality has always been more interesting than fiction. With the intuition of the rhythm, believable lyrics and the tasteful guitar work, the band’s ability to keep it to the point, without tacked on self indulgence clouding the pathway, permits them to continually develop into a strong, entertaining live act that all elements of the masses can enjoy. Check them out.

Purple Heart Parade are sonically speaking a more sober, delicate enterprise than their predecessor, they transport us into a sort of melancholic ambience. The drummer’s Nick Mason-esque approach of providing a gentle bed for the overbearing sonicsphere (as kindly projected from the PA), with its economical and ‘knows when to get serious’ approach in matching instrumental changes dependent on the amount of emotional intensity warranted. In support, the gentle plodding of the bassline, like a symbolic foreboding of lasting pain, or sadness… or frustration… or excessive ice cream consumption… or a combination of all of those… things, I really don’t know. The guitarist’s role essentially grips the thread that keeps the sock puppet from unravelling, a spinal column of sorts for the band to awkwardly lean on. The vocalist’s whispery, mysterious tone allows me to visualise what would have happened if Alan Vega hijacked a shoegaze band, unsettling stuff as expected.

I could discuss lyrical themes, but with the reverb being so overwhelming it would be of little point to try and decipher; whether deliberate I remain unsure, but the ambiguity it gives off certainly was enough to keep me frozen in place. The use of maracas and other secondary instruments adds additional dimension to the glowing-orb aesthetic this band gives off, almost as though you’ve become trapped in a neon-laden virtual reality adventure, from which you cannot return.

The ending number’s wailing guitar sound in conjunction with the emergence of a synthesiser, as if trying in vain to coat the delirium that this band appears so rich in; no doubt if the opportunity came, they’d feel right at home in a cyberpunk film’s soundtrack roster, complete with visors and spiked hair… oh and corrupt, cigar chomping businessman.

My attention span is certainly not the most longevity-orientated, and as such the band’s ethereal style caused me somewhat to lose interest, though by no means does that render them a mediocre band, I just felt the swift changes from ambient to interstellar overdrive started to wear thin; alas with a band such as this, one my need to see them a few times to understand what they are getting at, and if you’re are brave enough, write down the lyrics, for investigative purposes. Enjoy a sonic gutting that lulls you into silence? Check them out.

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Angus Rolland

Recent career decisions have compelled me into the journalistic... thing; I could list my literary influences or even debate which 3rd rate beverage has the best economic value per litre (But I won’t). Oh, in addition, I write reviews for the Independents Network.