As stalwarts of the Medway music scene, UpCDownC have always made people sit up and pay attention. With their infectiously dirty brand of fuzzy post rock they’ve been a prominent fixture in our locale over the past 15 years and out of all of the bands that came and then went, UpCDownC are the ones that never left us. In all their previous work they have never let us down and with their new self-titled EP being released on Friday 11th September they have delivered something truly wonderful yet again.
With an illustrious history of playing hypnotic and mesmerising post rock, it seems that UpC have elected to move in a slightly different musical direction. Now a three-piece, the band are hitting harder and stronger than ever, indulging in a ferocious audial assault that has previously only been hinted at. It is UpCDownC, but maybe not as you know it.
The EP kicks off with aptly named “Sludge Hammer“, rumbling ominously through an industrial soundscape into a gorgeously fat and heavy track. If there is one thing that has always characterised UpCDownC it was their ability to create a textured and rich atmosphere in their songs, and I’m delighted to say that none this wonderful talent has waned at all over the years. It’s may be that their new surroundings at Skingasm Records has helped them edge their sound towards the sludgier side, and while other bands might not be quite so comfortable in such a position with UpCDownC it just feels right; like an old friend visiting from uni, speaking and dressing ever so slightly different but still the same old mate; and my fuck does this new look suit them. ’Sludge Hammer’ hits hard and grooves harder, living up to everything that its name promises. There’s enough fuzz here to put even the most willing giver off head for life, and my only objection is that the song is over so quickly. Truly, this is an amazing track and UpCDownC are deserving of the highest praise for such an infectious work of art.
Moody and claustrophobic, Track 2 “Black Dracula” picks up in true UpC fashion with an film score opening that is worthy of Carpenter. The first few minutes of the track are tight and intense with that trademark arpeggiated riffing, plenty of synthy guitar to force home the sense of dread. The textures, sweeping and rich, fill the senses and overwhelm the listener; reminiscent of classic horror, dense and almost Lovecraftian in places. My decidedly obvious love of Horror may cloud my judgement through bias but as the tension of first half of the song builds up to such a climax, ending aptly enough with a quote from their impending ‘Faster than Evil’ project. It is here that UpC plunge into the second half of the track, with ‘Black Dracula’ picking up the sludgy stoner groove glory of ’Sludge Hammer’. The riff pounds the track onwards, with an immense beat drawing and enveloping the listener. It is an irresistible track and I find myself lost in it completely. The breakdown around 10 minutes is sublime and rumbling, everything I want from a great post rock track and everything I could crave from a band playing doom-laden sludge. The two sounds meld together perfectly and the horror overtones are welcome to horror nerds like me. My apologies if I sound like a gushing fan-boy, but when it’s this fucking good… Well, why wouldn’t I gush?
Final track of the EP is “Slobberknocker“, opening with a refreshingly ancient sounding riff; all tremolo picks and elegantly, openly different to what has come before. ‘Slobberknocker’ is unpredictable in how it drifts dynamically through a variety of vibrant sonic soundscapes. This song is gratifyingly heavy one moment and achingly light the next, seamlessly arcing from one to the other, rinse and repeat. 4 minutes in the track morphs again into a monster of a track, the rhythm’s cutting technicality blending into the deep dense brutality with unfathomable accuracy. It’s phenomenal how tight this band is, each track a testament to the years of love and nurtured talent that UpCDownC boast. “Slobberknocker” just keeps going strong, unrelenting until the very last note; just like the band themselves.
This self-titled EP is a joy to behold, a crash course in everything that an instrumental band should hope and strive for. Yes, it’s only three tracks. But the quality of these three tracks is phenomenal (and still clocks in at over 20 mins). The horror overtones and crushingly fuzzy grooves may also not be everyone’s cup of tea. But my fuck, when it is this good that point seems redundant, everyone can get lost in the rich textures that UpC craft. Once again, Skingasm have brought something truly glorious to the table, with UpCDownC the latest addition to their excellent roster of bands. The amazing production quality emphasises and showcases UpCs immense talent without compromise and after all these years Up C are as good as ever, if not better. It‘s truly refreshing to hear a band I grew up with are still so full of fantastic ideas and so confident in their abilities. Do not miss out on these tracks, UpCDownC are phenomenal. You should listen to this fantastic EP; you’ll thank me if you do!