Drab Majesty – The Demonstration
Released: January 20th 2017
Label: Dais Records
Stark, beautiful, and poignant; the much-anticipated release from Los Angeles two-piece Drab Majesty has finally been released. With the singles “39 by Design”, “Cold Souls” and “Too Soon To Tell’ being pre-released, I was already familiar with these songs and when it was announced that the band would be opening for another favorite act, Cold Cave; I knew I had to go see them live. I had also really enjoyed the prior album “Careless”, so it was win-win-win.
The performance was well put together and calculated. It told a story. This wasn’t a “set list” mashup of songs; this was a concept. I was a bit disappointed not to hear one of my favorite older tracks, “The Heiress” but it wouldn’t have fit. As they played an unknown track, which I have now discovered is “Not Just a Name” I was completely mesmerized. The feeling in the song transported me back to my teenage bedroom in the Midwest suburbs. Here’s the scene that played out in my head: A dark haired girl sits on a ball on her twin sized bed, curled up next to her stereo which lies adjacent. She just went through a break up – John Hughes style. However, this version of Molly Ringwald wears all black, loves Robert Smith, and has a Ouija board. She sobs softly as this song plays on a loop.
The next day I drove head first into the entire piece.
If timing is everything, it’s no circumstance that this was released the day our new president took office, as many of us are apprehensive as to what will come next under his leadership. Reading an interview with band figurehead Deb Demure; the alter ego of Andrew Clinco; the album was inspired by cults, specifically Heaven’s Gate. There is an undercurrent of themes beneath that setting that echoes’ throughout the piece; desperate love, faith in the unknown; giving into a premise that just doesn’t seem right; and treading between this world and the next, and though we are promised the latter brings better things, that somehow feels like it’s on the cusp of full destruction.
Upon a few complete full spins of the album as a whole, it seems to be divided up into three acts that are broken up by instrumental interludes.
Broken down by track:
Act One: 1-4: Introduction/optimism
Act Two: 5-7: Throes of passion
Conculsion: 8-12: The dissent
“Induction” –I read somewhere that Deb/Andrew was raised Catholic and that he finds that as a source of inspiration and uses many themes from that upbringing. This piece echoes some of the haunting organ pieces one might hear at any given mass, and sets up the overall foreboding nature of the album.
“Dot in the Sky” is full of big promises, hope and optimistic expectation. Run away and give up all “earthly possessions” and expectation. It’s scary with an undercurrent of danger to come. “You may find yourself in love with deception and lies.” Haven’t we all?
“39 by Design” – “You really wanted to die.” Our protagonist has lost hope anyway so despite the flaws in the logic of what you are about to undertake, really what’s to say it isn’t worth it? Maybe there is something to promises being made. So many others are following this path…
“They’ll beam you up into the sky, but you can take a Polaroid.”
“Not just a Name” Think back to a love in your life that was lost. Maybe it was unrequited, maybe it burned out too fast, or perhaps you were betrayed. Maybe it was ripped away from you. “She says we won’t be recycled.” But it always is. It’s the cycle. But that’s why it’s beautiful. You give in and fall, even though you realize that the sense of impending doom is still lingering underneath. It’s worth it for those moments of sheer beauty and raw emotion.
“Hath no Form” takes us into the next act. This is another instrumental piece that evokes raw beauty and faith in the journey. At this point, our protagonist has fully given in and though there are signs that something is broken or sinister just underneath; it doesn’t matter.
“Too Soon to Tell” and “Cold Souls” – Being my favorite part of the album, I will leave the narrative blank. Listen carefully and write your own story, evoke your own memories and/or desires. However, I might suggest playing both of these songs very, very loudly and with the assistance of an enhancing substance of choice. (Mine tends to be booze.)
“A Spire Points towards the Heavens” is another nod to any form of organized ritualism, and is cut off sharply but “Kissing the Ground”. The overall tone of the album changes here, with a much more aggressive angry track. This could easily be mistaken for a Sisters of Mercy song. This marks the dissent into the end of the album. The dreams have been broken and our protagonist is angry.
“Forget Tomorrow” : a contradiction in terms, further explores the realization that the ideology you put your faith in isn’t what you once believed it to be. This second of the harder edged tracks, especially when compared to earlier pieces in the album evoke the feeling that the world is falling apart and all you can do is sit back and watch. It’s too late for anything else.
“Behind the Wall” Well, welcome to the Land of Oz. It isn’t what you thought. Pay no attention to the man behind the mask. This story isn’t about him anyway; it’s about you.