New Album from The Emperors of Ice Cream
‘Employees Of Ice Cream’
Release Date 19th October
“I’m really into this new recording of ‘The Emperors Of Ice Cream’. They first won me over when I saw them live and now hearing this I feel it big time kicks up some serious dust… it “speaks” to me via the heart and paints inside-the-head pictures of emotional wild travel” – MIKE WATT (Minutemen, The Stooges, Firehose)
‘Employees Of Ice Cream’ is the debut album from the four piece post-punk outfit The Emperors Of Ice Cream. Released on October 19th, the album is preceded by the frenetic single ‘The Sunshine Song’, which is accompanied by an equally hectic music video.
The band formed their sound organically out several jam sessions; a combination of the songwriting prowess guitar/vocalist Sam Cutting developed as a solo artist, and fellow guitar/vocalist Karl M V Waugh’s eclectic musical background, playing in projects such as the psychedelic drone duo The Zero Map and Marxist poetry group Binnsclagg. As a brother and triplet with Sam, emotionally blackmailing Joe Cutting to step in on bass was a fitting next step, who joined along with drummer Tim Cottrell to complete the quartet in early 2014. Since then The Emperors Of Ice Cream have shared stages with the likes of punk legend Mike Watt (The Stooges, Minutemen, Dos) and his new band Il Sogno del Marinaio, Cowtown and The Piranahs, even being invited to join Mike on his ‘The Watt from Pedro Show’ podcast.
A record forged after honing their craft through a number single and EP releases, ‘Employees Of Ice Cream’ perfectly encapsulates the environment in which it was created. Recorded entirely live in one sitting at Brighton Electric studios, with Mark Roberts (Delta Sleep, Black Peaks) at the helm, the distinctive presence and immediacy allows the seven songs to exist in their purest, unadulterated form. Karl elaborates; “It was the only genuine way that we could do it and be true to the nature these songs exist in, which is us playing together in a room all at once”. This process also created a space for improvisation, combining their influences from free jazz and psychedelia to the post-punk aesthetic without “trying to be some genre hopping band showing off their record collection.” The almost entirely improvised ending of ‘Test Case’ collapses in on itself as dissonant, modal guitars battle against each other, with the underlying rhythm section allowing for this chaos to ensue without entirely losing direction.
Thematically then, the album is less rooted in grandiose political sentiment than it is in a time and place, both geographically and metaphysically. There are moments of course where the inverse is true; the album opener wobbles with woozy feedback before veering into looping, hypnotic guitars, with repeated cries of the title ‘Nothing Belongs To You’providing a rallying cry against a self-obsessed capitalist society; upcoming single ‘The Sunshine Song’ explodes into existence with driving bass and dissonant guitars before asking “Are they lies, or carefully constructed information disguise?” – a brazen confrontation of the mainstream media for their pernicious spread of misinformation. But as Sam explains, “We understand that we write from a privileged place, and don’t want to try and claim a grand politics for it all. It’s just one way of articulating problems, hardships and some level of anger”.
Despite elements of apathy and frustration there is an underlying conviviality and camaraderie in their performance which obviously forms an important part of the band’s identity, as Joe confirms: “Going into rehearsal or the studio has always been fun, I think whatever song we are playing there’s always some joyous tone underneath, even if it is laced in apathy”. Further confirmation comes from waltz-like bass and a Pavement-esq slacker vibe in ‘Oh!’ which, almost gleefully, depicts a story of unrequited love in just four short lines. The album’s ballad ‘Ain’t Got The Money’ shows the band having fun with genre-melding, as a soaring vocal performance is accompanied by, shimmering Cocteau Twinsstyle guitars and a measured swing. Without directly wearing their influences on their sleeves, it is apparent that a diverse range of musical styles have been incorporated into the band’s writing process, as Karl explains, “I think musically it’s a grand melting pot of what all of us listen to”.
To close the album are two songs that bring earlier explored ideas and sentiments full circle. ‘Can I Lie Down In The Snow’ begins with foreboding, ringing chords before galloping into a wall of noise and agitated drums, emulating, as Karl puts it, “that desire to quit, that feeling that you should give up, be that at something you’re doing or in a more final sense”. The ambiguous finale of ‘What You Did’ explores the difficulties in discussing violence, as a swamp-like groove oozes with blues, culminating in an extended outro jam that belongs more on a Desert Sessions record than that of their post-punk contemporaries. It is a fitting end to an album that climbs and falls with peaks and troughs, always leaving you to wonder as to which direction it will lead you next.