German Shepherd/Marlene’s Hat Records
12 track debut album by the Manchester-based Art Rock/Post Punk combo Weimar. The band formed in 2016 and have previously released the three singles Joe Doe, Marvel To The State and The Girls Of LA. Ian Canty writes…
I first found out about Weimar through John Armstrong, the band’s bassist and also part of the mighty Speed Of Sound. Most of the other Weimar members keep themselves busy with other projects too, with singer Aidan Cross performing with Black Light Mutants and The Bacillus. Lead guitarist Stephen Sarsen also part of the latter band, as well as Frank Is Dead and Playground. Drummer Anthony “Eddy” Edwards completes the core of Weimar, with them being joined on this LP by multi-instrumentalist Johann Kloos (The Sandells).
Any thoughts that this plethora of outside involvements may give Dancing On A Volcano in any way the feel of something part time are quickly laid to rest. After the brief drum pattern of Prelude, we’re into the album proper with Soho Rain. This is where a reflective sound of guitar and the restrained vocal stylings Aidan Cross combine to make for a brooding atmosphere and the twisted but memorable story of a drug pusher in London emerges as the tension is smartly ramped up. Guest artist Finola’s sax kicks in towards the end of the piece to endow a further layer of melancholy and regret.
It’s an impressive, unique start that continues with The Sociopath, which sets out in an almost music-theatre fashion. The flood of words, exotic brass inflections and jangle of the guitar all guide the listener along, while they are no doubt trying to piece together exactly what is going on in the sound and words overload.
Next comes I Smashed The Looking Glass, which is more orthodox in structure but no less pleasing, making for an accessible, catchy as hell piece of odd Pop Music. You can hear the band’s Manchester Post Punk roots show through here, but the end result is never anything other than just Weimar themselves in approach and application and it is hugely enjoyable too.
It ends with a fast Punk coda and then comes the busy acoustics of The Hangers-On, the tale of the addiction to stardom that weighs heavy in 2022. Some considered and economic bass playing and drums play a great role on what is again a very different but accessible piece. The following track Arandora Star starts with a dusty Country/Blues inclination that hovers in the air, until the rhythm section snaps into action in the stamping refrain. Weimar sometimes employ a kind of woozy intensity on Dancing On A Volcano that has a lot happening at once for one to process, but they never do it at the expense of a good tune.
The thread of Polished Decay is old Punk and Biker city centre hangouts being redeveloped into glass and steel nightmares in the 21st century. It’s the story of history being buried under modern architecture’s repetitive quirks, with the upshot that everywhere starts to look exactly the same. Blues guitar and saxophone spin in and out, giving it a touch of Jazz weirdness that is allied to the unstoppable momentum of the beat. Slowing things down comes the mysterious meditative crawl of Hunter’s Moon, where it appears that something very strange is stowed in the protagonist’s suitcase.
A rumble of drums heralds Faded Queen Of The Night, a warped folk tune that details the “self-acclaimed glory” of the subject and Nights In Spanish Harlem cannily juxtaposes the R&B relentlessness in the rhythm to clarinet bursts and Cross’s vocal drawl. Heaven On High Street East’s sparseness provides the canvas for a picture of domestic life that is slowly disintegrating, while all the time attempting to pretend things are going swimmingly on social media.
The lyric really rings true as a picture of the emptiness of life in the 21st century and to round things off there’s a well-judged and unexpected guitar solo on this one too, plus a great big hook at the end. We then come to set closer The Tatterdemalions. This features Prelude’s drums as an intro and the sound of the old (Folk) and New (Post Punk) colliding head-on, which makes for a fitting end-piece.
In Dancing On A Volcano Weimar have delivered a record of true depth, sharp imagination and shot through with innovation. Here they put forward their own, sometimes bizarre, sometimes cutting but always clearly drawn world for the listener to explore and do so with a musical dexterity that is enviable. Dancing On A Volcano, in short, offers you a real experience that is both rare and precious.
You can secure a copy of Dancing On A Volcano here
Click here for Weimar’s website and here for their Facebook page</strong>