This is the debut EP from London foursome Arkless - out October 2016 on 12" vinyl and digital. The record is released together with Barely Regal Records (UK), strictly no capital letters (UK) and Dingleberry Records (Germany). It is on a run of 250 copies - 150 in black and 100 on white with black splatter.
This is rs022.
Arkless is Joao, Calum, Max and Andy.
Formed in 2015, Arkless’ first release is one with a surprisingly coherent aesthetic and sound for such a new band. In part, this can be explained by the band members’ shared history – long before Arkless formed they crossed paths frequently, playing in bands that were part of the same tight-knit DIY scene, trading ideas, influences and approaches to music alike. Equally though, the EP’s cohesive sound is no accident – a deliberate effort by the band to carve out a space that is their own from the very beginning, blending influences from 90s punk and post-punk to early science fiction literature and film, with motifs and themes than run through every aspect of their output – from music to artwork to live visuals.
Recorded at studio and community venue JT Soar in Nottingham – an incubator of sorts for DIY punk activity in the UK, something that is immediately obvious when listening to the EP is the sense of space, both in terms of production and structure. Where past projects – the frantic, anarcho-influenced emo of What, Price Wonderland, or the spiraling post-punk of Bird Calls, were dense to the point of being almost impenetrable in places, with Arkless each instrument occupies its own space, intricate guitar lines weaving intricate patterns around bass that anchors the melody and drums which propel the songs forward.
The core theme at the heart of the EP is the idea of getting people to think rather than telling them what to think, not regurgitating ideas and avoiding the trap of simple sloganeering that punk often falls into. Played out in lyrics that are for the most part deliberately obtuse, framed from everyday situations which spark some kind of existential thought, the idea is to give the listener a relatable jumping off point from which they can imbue their own meaning. This theme is employed at its most literal in ‘Clear’ – one of the few tracks on the EP which has more of a standard narrative structure. Following the train of thought of a narrator grappling with the notion that people can perceive the same thing in different ways, the track builds into a crescendo, driving guitars and drums building into a frenzy before breaking up into nothingness, as the narrator begins to doubt the universality of their own views – ‘it’s clear…isn’t it?’
That core concept – that people may perceive the same thing in different ways and imbue the same (inherently meaningless) objects with different meaning, equally follows in the EP’s artwork. Combining hi-res scans from the Hubble Telescope with (surprisingly prescient) illustrations of space travel from an 1870s French textbook – the artwork centres around space and the cosmos, the great unknown entity that humanity has imbued with all manner of meaning through time, from the myths of ancient civilistations, to ideas about the afterlife and philosophical notions of our place in a wider universe.
Eschewing standard packaging for the physical release in favour of a poster that folds to form the case for the record – a deliberate nod to less immediately obvious influences on Arkless like Flux of Pink Indians and Crass, each track is accompanied by an individual illustration on the inner side of the poster. Together they suggest a kind of visual narrative, though again it isn’t necessarily prescriptive as to what this narrative is.
released October 9, 2016
Recorded with Phil Booth at JT Soar
Produced by Joe Caithness
Mixed and mastered with Joe Caithness at Subsequent Mastering
Artwork and design by Andy Hemming, bassist and vocalist for the band.