Self-conscious art-rock, prog pretensions and sloganeering – Derayernah talk the talk but do they walk the walk?
“We didn’t promote our debut album because we wanted to wait for the Consummation of All Things to draw nearer, the end of the world. That time is now”.
It might seem a bit pointless to hold back on publicity until the apocalypse, and I suspect that we are not quite in the end times despite the constant press hysteria, but perhaps as you huddle in your bunker surrounded by toilet roll and Lemsip, you might be inclined to listen to the curious sounds of Derayernah’s ‘mumble rock’. Or not – why make things worse than they have to be? Single Siberian Scopes is quite enough, but I suspect that the whole album (In Joys) would not make any period of viral-induced self-isolation a more agreeable or, indeed, joyful experience.
I’m perhaps being a touch harsh, of course – but then, I have an immediate and perhaps pathological aversion to ‘mumble’ anything, which is by and large the domain of the very worst sort of self-important hipsters. And Derayernah seems to be trying very hard, as the above quote suggests. Whatever happened to bands just wanting to become rich and famous, shag groupies and develop expensive drug habits? I rather miss that.
More significantly, I can’t help but fail to be overly-excited by archly self-conscious art-rock suffused with the immediately irritating guitar jangles of a thousand bands before and vocals that are near incoherent. Though the staccato barked vocals are, in fact, the best thing about this.
And the lyrics are… well, they’re something. Let’s start at the start, shall we?
That I’m not in it for the sok
You don’t need the sok to drink the sok
Rump. Dump. Come rambling in the sachet
Sundown’s creaking in the abbey
Well, there you go. The video for Siberian Scopes helpfully has all the lyrics so you can sing along if you wish. There is, no doubt, deeper meaning at work that only the band is privy to, and there are far from the first act to be eccentrically obtuse – try deciphering Jon Anderson’s Yes lyrics (ideally without actually listening to Yes). Luckily, the band has shared the vision behind the words:
“The song tells of a voyage to the dystopian city of Abakan to pay homage to a larger-than-life monarch known as ‘the Tsar’.
Sonically, we’d long been fans of Turkish folk music, and wanted to infuse an Eastern vibe into one of our numbers, but not in a patchy gimmicky way. So, we used conventional rock instrumentation, but the melodic skeleton of the song is Near Eastern-ish, with chanted vocals”.
Well, put like that the track makes more sense, and if I am to put aside my jaded cynicism and inherent need to scoff for a moment, this does grow on you after a couple of listens; it might grow like a fungus, but grow it does. I’m not for a moment suggesting that Derayernah as even remotely as innovative and brilliant as I suspect they think they are (and there’s nothing wrong with self-belief – find me a band who aren’t convinced of their own brilliance, I dare you), but this track will linger in your head for longer than is necessarily sensible. Whether that is good or bad, I’ll leave you to decide.
And there’s something to be said for an act who are so bloody-mindedly uncommercial that they not only give themselves an unpronounceable name but also tread the fine line that separates the hated world of pretentious prog and the critically adored world of pretentious indie.