Naevus – Behaviour

There is a toilet on the cover of this album, half-hidden behind the trees. Probably not by accident, the words ‘shit’ and ‘excrement’ can also be found in the ‘down-to-earth’ lyrics. And on the second track one of the ‘instruments’ used is a toilet. Perhaps unusual, but there are far more interesting things to tell about this album by Naevus. Like the fact that it is the third album of this London duo, and ‘their most ambitious and fully realizing work to date’. And that bandmembers Lloyd James (voice, guitars, percussion, keyboard) and Joanne Owen (bass) are helped by two well-known veterans. One of them is Karl Blake, the recognizable bass/guitar-player of Sol Invictus and Shock Headed Peters amongst others. The other is John Murphy, who took care of the drums for numerous apocalyptic folk and industrial acts. Naevus had already come to my attention through their contributions for the tribute cd’s from Kirlian Camera and Sol Invictus respectively. They really gave their own twist to the originals on those releases.

“Behaviour” is already impressive in length: 14 tracks in 71 minutes. But there is more than just quantity. Naevus manages to create a musical style which may not be original, but which really works well. Lots of deep basstones, intimate guitars and the low voice of Lloyd James create an introspective, slightly grim atmosphere. The gloomy observatory lyrics add further to the overall mood. The instrumental opener ‘While you sleep’ immediately sets the tone, with its austere, oppressing sound. Various fine folky tunes follow. ‘Chairs are men’ reminds me of Sol Invictus in their ‘The Blade” period, especially through the guitar and bass sound. ‘Visions rushed’, the track with the toilet, is a really nice piece, somewhat lighter than most other tracks, with a fine melody and a pleasant melancholic feel. Next is ‘Like arms’, which really reminds me of The Swans/Michael Gira, both in its slow dark poetic sound and lyrics, about the failures of the body and mind. ‘The tide’ is a little more uptempo, with a nice swirling melody, it makes me think of Joy Division for some reason, probably through the vocals. And then to think that 9 more worthwhile songs follow!

This is a very consistent album, keeping up a high quality throughout its long playing time. The atmosphere remains slightly grim and intimate, the sound tranquil and moody. Perhaps a few more lighter passages would have done the album good, as a little contraweight to all the oppressing notes. Toward the end of the album it’s getting a bit suffocating. But in general a very recommended album of great maturity and confidence. Probably not ideal to listen to with tropical temperatures, as is the case now. But I think ‘Behaviour’ would make a great soundtrack for a bleak and grey autumn or winter day…

“Don’t come close to me; you don’t need
To see the pieces that begrime me
In time I will transfer them onto you
But for now be patient: stay there
This is my sickness”
from ‘Break no bread’, one of the better tracks

artist: Naevus
label: Operative Records
details: 14 tracks, 71 minutes