Repetition can be hit or miss. It is the hallmark and defining feature of certain genres, but can easily be overdone. Warren Schoenbright – not a person but instead a U.K.-based experimental trio – makes exquisite use of the technique. Consisting of Alex Virji on bass and occasional vocals, Matthew Pastkewicz on electronics, and Daniel McClennan on drums, the group offers Excavations as their latest release.
A single-track EP lasting 25 minutes, the piece was inspired by the abandoned machinery of a now-defunct haematite mine and is dominated by the fractured rhythms of Virji and McClennan. The aforementioned repetition invokes the operations of these rusting hulks, as the bass and drum patterns slowly vary over the length of the track. When Virji takes the lead, McClennan either follows along or sets forth non-deterministic rattling. On top of these elements, Pastkewicz provides subtle and foreboding soundscapes and Virji offers the sporadic shout. One could make comparisons to the Japanese drum / bass powerhouse Ruins (though less frenetic) or King Crimson at their less song-oriented moments.
Landing somewhere between heavy metal, ambient, prog rock, and experimental improvisation, Excavations is a powerful and concise statement. To these ears, Warren Schoenbright is at their best when they loosen up into a more extemporaneous approach to contrast with the mechanical theme of the album. Regardless, there is much to like here.