I know roughly what to expect from a Future Noise record but even I wasn’t prepared for the grim misery of Undersmile. Between the 10 tracks on the album they manage to damn near fill up a CD and four of those tracks take up nearly an hour. Big deal you might say but it’s only when you begin the epic task of listening to this album that you realise what this kind of bleakness extended over this time can mean. I think the gruelling lengths of the songs are a deliberate device to make sludge even sludgier by slowing it down and making it last what feels like forever.
So you might think the use of “bleak” and “gruelling” mean I don’t like this album but of course this is exactly what I’m looking for in music like this. I want guitars that sound like they’ve been downtuned to absolute zero and then dropped in acid. I want a drummer who sounds like he’s fighting off some kind of paralysing ailment which means he leaves an aeon between drum hits (or whatever the technical name is).
What I didn’t know I wanted is a duo of females in charge of this musical morass. It was such an unusual thing to hear female voices fronting this sludged out death march, that my stupid brain didn’t even process it till about half way through when it finally clicked that the deeply unsettling vocal was being achieved with a weird kind of close harmony where all the notes slowly die as they get stretched out over the maximum length of time lungs can make this sort of noise. I was also a little freaked out because it sounded quite a lot like the vocalist from one Hangin Freud but harmonizing with herself.
Undersmile have done their best to alleviate the suffering by breaking up the tracklisting with some shorter songs and some less malignant sounds (like on “Funayerei”) but they really give the listener a kicking on the magnificent sixteen minute long “Myra” (which is presumably connected in some way to Hindley, Britain’s least favourite lady (behind Margaret Thatcher)). It’s like being sealed in a blank grey room in which the temperature drops consistently while every minute or so they admit another crying orphan.
So why do I like this sort of music ? Well, firstly it’s an exercise in patience. It’s almost designed to scare away people who don’t have the intellectual capacity to sit through a minute of music without a chorus. Secondly, the only thing that could make this abysmal summer any worse is cheerful cunts like Bruno Mars and Olly Murs being cheerful at me. This is the perfect soundtrack to the worst summer ever and while part of me wishes it was sunny, the depressed teenager in me is glad that I can stay in and listen to the terrifying sickly / sweet crooning of Undersmile.