Salem - King Night
It's always a danger: front load your album with your best track and hope everyone is so blown away that they don't notice that not everything lives up to the initial promise. And that's certainly the case with King Knight, the debut from Michigan trio Salem. The broken beats and the choirs of fallen angels of the title track - it's Goblin put through a wicked witch's mincing machine and it's pretty immense. Subsequent efforts never quite achieve such heights but the disquieting blend of Heather Marlatt's Blair Witch-isms, electro cheese and Jack Donoghue's crack house raps make for an intriguing listen as we begin to wind down towards the exciting pre-festive period of Greatest Hits and Chrimbo compilations.
While the real star of the show may be John Holland's beat wrangling, pulling all manner of spluttering shapes from cheap shit drum machines, lower key atmospherics like the (bad) dream Dead Can Dance-isms of 'Traxx' may work best over the long term, while the Cure guitars of 'Tair' are a welcome respite from the relentless synths and drones that envelop most numbers. Throw Cranes, Angelo Badalamenti and Ol' Dirty Bastard in a room, lock the door and tell them not to come out until they've done an album and this is pretty much what you'll get. Whether it's as game changing as some seem to think remains to be seen.
Away from the music itself, perhaps the most pleasing aspect of King Night is its emergence on a major label. Despite selling out a variety of limited edition EPs prior to this, for such a big brand to take a chance on such an uncompromising release is, in a small way, heartening. Notice perhaps that someone, somewhere acknowledges the industry needs to take a chance on artists working someway off the map.
If we know anything from the fairy tales, it's that straying from the path inevitably leads to the scary shit. But is it a journey worth taking? Definitely.