As far as experimental, atmospheric instrumental music goes, London based 6-piece Rumour Cubes seem to have got it just right on their new album The Narrow State. This 6-track record boasts a bittersweet and melancholic ambience for the most part, with moments of chaos fuelled by distortion and rumbling, crashing drums.
The first two tracks serve to demonstrate this stark contrast from the beginning. Opener The University Is A Factory starts off slow and smooth with strings as guitar oozes in. It’s calming but with a slightly unsettling edge (if that makes sense). The drums grow as the guitar becomes more raucous, contrasting with the strings’ desperate attempt to hold the song together before things calm down and the song ends just as it begins. On the other hand, second track The Gove Curve wouldn’t sound out of place on the score of a zombie apocalypse movie, starting off slow and eerie before it goes mental with distortion and horror movie style sliding strings, making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. If a song can do that, then it becomes an automatic album highlight. It is then played out with some spoken word poetry from Steve Willey, giving it a whole new artistic quality.
At Sea, again, has that unsettling feeling created by guitar, but the strings’ melody is very calming and lulling. A series of build ups met with anti-climaxes serve to keep the listener’s attention but altogether, it’s just a very sweet and steady track. The title and melody seem to go hand in hand, allowing the listener’s imagination to create a visual accompaniment to the song.
Rain On Titan is very similar to its predecessor, though things are altogether more upbeat. A change in pace half way through makes things much more interesting as rapid guitar and drum rhythms contrast with smooth sliding guitars before things become slower but louder with distortion again towards the end.
Just when you start to think you know what to expect from the rest of the album, along comes Triptych with its crazy velocity, full of fun and fury in equal measure. It’s completely different to what we’ve heard from Rumour Cubes so far. Even the strings sound hardcore! But what can be expected is a breakdown which sees things slow right down and fade out as the atmospheric ambience comes back, washing the fury away, almost cleansing, with a heartbeat-like vibrating pulse. Towards the end, strings and guitar finally unite in melody, complementing one another as the song plays out.
This is continued in final track Tempus Fugit which sees soft and sweet atmospheric guitar complemented by a cool, calm cello and soft percussion. The cello then begins to take over, drawing attention to itself before all instruments come together, interweaving between each other in a rather well structured manner.
With a sound that would fit well within the score of any current horror, thriller or drama movie of late, it’s difficult to imagine how The Narrow State would be translated onstage. However, the fact that the band work closely with poets and filmmakers, syncing videos to their live performances to construct a multimedia experience for their audience suggests that, for Rumour Cubes, when it comes to live shows, they push the boundaries and go beyond the music.
Review by Nina Glencross