In the mood for some return-to-roots-punk with a fair sprinkle of noise rock in the mix? Look no further, Gaffa Bandana’s new record Fraught In Waves is here to slake your thirst. Hailing from Brighton in the UK, the duo consists of Gill Dread (Bruxa Maria) on guitars and vocals and Jennie Howell (Sleeping Creatures, Gorse) – also responsible for the album’s artwork – on drums. The album was recorded by Part Chimp’s very own Tim Cedar.
Expanding over six tracks, Gaffa Bandana’s debut is one that succeeds at synchronously building up tension and aggression for as long as the listening experience endures. And it does so by keeping it very loud and straightforward at every instance. While the record is not a showstopper in the technical department, it is most certainly bound to stop you in your tracks with its massive, raw tune.
Things start to warm up as the more rudimental track on the record ‘Breakage’ rolls out with the menacing wailing of slow-paced guitar strums, bending their way toward the transparent drum patterns that closely follow accompanied by Dread’s devilish screeches. As the opener fades out, we’re immediately welcomed by a more expeditious and intense track, ‘Charm Offensive’. Here, crashing cymbals and ominous, larger than life guitar riffs are the main driving force for a predominant part of the track.
‘Paralysis of Will’ retreads some of the conceptions of the previous track, but does so in a more abrasive and fuller manner. As the lengthiest in the album, it makes good use of repetition in various segments to transpose sensation of an unbreakable, hypnotic cycle. ‘Evil Whispers’ is where some of the more interesting ideas begin to pop out. Dread’s guitar work here feels very organic, and the unpredictability of the vocal performances are haunting. Likewise, Howell’s oscillation between choking hi-hats in quick succession and heavy cymbal splashes all over the place are due a mention.
On the title track ‘Fraught in Waves’, Dread’s siren-like screams steal the show once again. Even among the uninterrupted chaos that thrives at every turn, the high-pitched, piercing tone of Dread’s voice is just powerful enough to be made heard even through the densest of sound environments. Bringing matters to a close is ‘One Wage Away’. Although a solid track, it does not go out with the loudest of bangs, mostly due to it feeling like a rework of all the previous material.
In fact, it is precisely on the last track that some caveats become more visible with Gaffa Bandana’s debut. The identity of each song is somewhat lost throughout the album because of the often-similar tone that is common to all. Additionally, some segments could have favoured from a more differed approach. Having more variety in their composition would have gone a long way in making all of them more unique. If there’s something good to take from the sameness of the tone in the album however, is that it ends up adding to its cohesive structure.
Overall, Gaffa Bandana’s first endeavour is still quite impressive, especially considering all that the duo was able to achieve in terms of their expansive and harsh sound. Surely worth looking out for in the future.
Fraught in Waves is available to buy or stream here.
Follow Gaffa Bandana on Facebook.