UK Extreme Ultimate Cassette (2015)
Sharing its title with name of the Swedish/Norwegian jazz-rock group could almost be no accident. This, Cove's posthumous fourth album cuts a swathe through post-rock, doom, dirge, space-rock and free improv with the verve and brutality of the group The Thing, only without any of that fancy brass getting in the way. In terms of free playing, there’s a precedent in Cove’s history; the improvisation on The Thing is reminiscent of drummer Mark Davidson’s improvised project Exit Strategy. Bassist Tony Mountford doubles up on synthesisers which lends a spacey, proggy feel to what could otherwise be mostly straight-ahead post-rock material. This is a big departure, in terms of production alone, from their first album proper; 2004’s HiWatt, where guitarist DCW Briggs led with a grinding, metronomic swing. Cove cite the opening scenes of John Boorman’s film Zardos, which explains the apocalyptic qualities of their music, and Grateful Dead’s Anthem of The Sun as inspiration, although there is equally an undercurrent louche Duophonic-like feel probably courtesy of the influence of Stereolab’s Andy Ramsay, who was responsible for recording the album.
The Thing is varied yet focussed; Globules features an acoustic guitar riff which results in a kind of Acid Mothers Temple unplugged vibe, Ambient Circuits and Ghosts Of Orbits mine musical themes common to a lot of Cove’s previous output, and the title track is of an epic drone/industrial persuasion - it heaves under the weight of experimentation and improvisation; ropes and notes taut and at the point of snapping; an analogy appropriate to the album as a whole, perhaps...
On a personal note, it is not without some sadness that I note Cove’s demise. I organised a couple of shows for them in Brighton around 2004/5 with Projections and the WOW, as part of a scene that also included Lords, Charlottefield, Jason & The Astronauts, Joeyfat, Planquez and Hey Colossus, most of whom are also now defunct, (with the exception of Hey Colossus who these days are going from strength to strength). In terms of Cove’s sound, they may have sounded cleaner than most doom bands, more dynamic than most drone bands, more precise than most post-hardcore bands, more powerful than most post-rock bands, and with their arrangements peppered with more “free” intervals than anyone else dared, and all that just made them all the more unique. Later tracks like Marsh Of Decay from Projected pointed out their Slint and other American post-whatever influences, but there remained something truly original in their exploration of the form.
From their emergence in the early 2000’s from Tunbridge Well’s Forum-based scene, through their output of three albums on Unlabel and their miscellaneous product on labels like jonsonfamily, Noisestar, Dead Art Collective, Convoy and Fat Sandwich, (all in regrettably small editions), and their involvement in London’s Silver Rocket scene, Cove live became one of the most dependably high quality propositions in the UK in my opinion, despite their relative, and undeserved, obscurity. Certainly, 2013’s Projected cassette featured probably the most well-rounded song-based material, while my personal favourites are For Absent Companions; the split 7” with Charlottefield from 2003, and the Untitled 7” from 2001. It is with a mixture of joy and sadness that I listen to the music on The Thing as it seems it may be the last we’ll hear of one of the greatest uk power trios of the last decade. Choose the download version or a limited run cassette, or packages with cassette and t-shirt or cassette, t-shirt and poster.