Recorded with Matthew Benn and Jamie Lockhart in 2023, angeltape is an avant-garde document of the events that unfolded over the five-year gap between records which saw a variety of changes – good and bad – steer their professional and personal lives down unfamiliar territories. Instead of succumbing to adversity, however, Drahla re-emerge sounding creatively rejuvenated and examine this time with deeply reflective perspectives. Over the last few years, they suffered devastating losses and expanded their sound with guitarist Ewan Barr joining vocalist and guitarist Luciel Brown, bassist Rob Riggs and drummer Mike Ainsley. These recent experiences – collective and individual – culminate in a sound that is considerably darker and tonally more complex and conceptual in its essence. Delving into themes of grief and trauma whilst simultaneously celebrating moments of sentimentality and support during difficult times, angeltape shifts between being a challenging, comforting and ultimately rewarding record for both artist and audience.
The first taste of this new evolution of the band is offered up in the form of the album’s frenetic lead single “Default Parody”, which is announced today alongside the album. Merging off-kilter guitars with erratic sax lines and harmonious yet metallic vocals. “It’s controlled chaos”, says Brown, “lots of different ideas that resolve at some strange harmony. It was the first realisation of writing something from start to finish with the addition of Ewan on guitar so there’s more freedom of interplay and from our previous roles in the band.”
Brown continues, “lyrically it’s taken inspiration from Shakespeare’s ‘to be or not to be’. It’s navigating loss of life and life with loss. ‘To be, I see, what is, to be’ it’s a one-way deconstructed conversation with yourself.
The video was created at home by us with the assistance of my brother George Brown.”
The addition of Ewan Barr to Drahla’s visceral and vital arrangements signaled a significant shift in the band’s dynamic, ultimately reshaping the way they approach their angular arrangements. Crucially, it allowed Drahla to dismantle previous limitations and carve out new sonic avenues to experiment with form more than ever before. Brown, in particular, embraced this opportunity to find different ways to inhabit her contemplative lyrics. There was, of course, a readjustment period for the band as they came together to write angeltape in this new iteration which kickstarted a renewed creative approach. “There was an uncertainty and anxiety in not knowing how to rekindle what we had, and what we did have just didn’t exist in the same format,” Brown explains. “I feel this is apparent in the music; the constant changes, opposing ideas and structures, the overall energy and drive of the songs. I think there’s also the sense of reconnection, encouragement and freedom, too. There’s excitement borne from us finding something together again.”
Sonically, the exhilarating interplay of driving bass riffs and charged drum patterns provide a captivating contrast to Brown’s melodic spoken delivery. The enveloping atmosphere emanating from the quartet is heightened by searing saxophone accompaniments by long-standing collaborator Chris Duffin, who has featured on all of Drahla’s previous output. There’s an irresistible and unwavering potency surging throughout this masterful second record, one that stays with you long after you first step into Drahla’s enticing world. Furthermore, this exciting new chapter is anchored by the quartet finding a great source of inspiration in the joy of playing music together, as bassist Rob Riggs adds: “When the four of us are in a room, we each bring separate things to the table. Sometimes, a session would start a little bit disjointed but then we find a way where we could all interlock together for a moment in a song and then disperse again.”
Drawing some inspiration from experimental rock band This Heat, Drahla primarily found that their greatest motivation came from listening to and following one another throughout the recording sessions. “I think the process and inspiration for this album has been way more experimental and insular than taking on any external musical references,” says Brown, “This record feels like it was built on a foundation of insular inspiration.” This autonomous practice extends beyond Drahla’s music into the visual representation of their intense and immersive instrumentation. It’s almost impossible to listen to songs as intricately layered – musically and lyrically– as theirs and not imagine the spaces they exist within. Thus providing an awe-striking multi-sensory experience every time you spend time with a Drahla record.
Drahla will also head out on tour across the EU and UK this May / June, their first since their European dates in 2023. Their reputation as a fervent live act is ever-growing, having toured across the world and shared stages with the likes of Parquet Courts, Ought, Buzzcocks, and several others.
Tickets will go on sale Friday 26th January – HERE.