Twelve years after its original release, Belong’s debut ‘October Language‘ gets it first vinyl pressing courtesy of John Elliot’s (Outerspace/Emeralds) Spectrum Spools label. The reissue launches the record into a new context, shedding new light on both its predecessors and what came after.
Opener ‘I Never Lose, Never Really’, brings in the scorched guitar sound that recurs throughout the album. Here, it plays out a watery, elegiac overture to the following seven tracks. A drenched, static weary melody that constantly seems to be straining against the boundaries of amplification.
From there the record sways into ‘Red Velvet Or Nothing’, ratcheting up the feeling that the album is being broadcast through some snapped antenna. Frequently the production simulates a radio stuck between two stations, alien music dripping into perception among the hiss and murk. A genuine psychedelic effect that breaks down the barrier between hallucinated and actual audio.
Looking back on ‘October Language‘, it seems to hint at a parallel trajectory for early noughties experimental and electronic music that never came to be. The damaged electronic fever dream conjured on the tracks sits somewhere between the rural grandeur of GAS’ acid fuelled forest meditation, and the charged ambient stylings of Tim Hecker or Ben Frost. It escapes the loop fixation of Wolfgang Voigt’s project though, suggesting that the music of Turk Dietrich and Mike Jones doesn’t have the same club roots. At the same time, it doesn’t indulge in the grandiose, neo-classical physicality of Ben Frost and Tim Hecker.
"October Language constantly conjures the hazy humidity of a summer’s evening right after a storm."
Rather, Belong seem to have a greater affinity with the likes of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. Those two bands shaved rock music of its macho posturing. Keeping the distorted intensity but shaping it into something that could also be layered, sophisticated and subtle. Belong seem to build on this through electronic means. ‘I’m Too Sleepy… Shall We Swim?’, the quietest track on the record, lulls between ripples of bass and splashes of echoed melody. Its ebbs and flows a weird slow dance akin to moon rays reflecting on a gentle sea surface.
Closing track ‘The Door Opens the Other Way’ brings the cathartic, full blown crescendo that the whole album seems to have been building up to, the surge of blurred sound rendered more potent by the fact it hasn’t been shackled by a beat. It’s the exception that proves the rule for the record, flooding out the stereo field with pink noise to amplify the softness that came before.
Dietrich and Jones would expand on what they started on ‘October Language‘ with follow up ‘Common Era‘. That record saw their oneiric textures moulded around drum machine beats and vocals into song structures. Although still remarkable, it lacked the purity of intention brought by their debut’s sparseness.
Perhaps reflective of their New Orleans home, Belong’s ‘October Language‘ constantly conjures the hazy humidity of a summer’s evening right after a storm. A crackled, interference riddled radio playing through the moist air that somehow becomes the centre of attention. Revisited in 2018, it’s subtlety and lack of machismo has an even greater impact than first time around.
October Language is scheduled for release 20th April 2018, order a copy from Spectrum Spools.
1. I Never Lose. Never Really
2. Red Velvet Or Nothing
3. October Language
4. I’m Too Sleepy…Shall We Swim?
5. Remove The Inside
6. Who Told You This Room Exists?
7. All Equal Now
8. The Door Opens The Other Way
9. A Sunny Place for Shady People*
11. Continuous Drift*