Writer’s block can be a troubling thing when you’re sitting down and trying to conjure up a series of words and ideas that you’d like to communicate with others. Countless hours can sometimes be spent staring at your computer screen with not a thought crossing your mind. Something hits your brain, and you rattle off some words through the keyboard. You review what you just jotted down and hit the backspace key because, despite your good intentions, nothing of value or worth came out of it. I’m thankful for the UK’s Down I Go, whose latest album is so strange and exotic that it smacked my brain cells back into action.
Before we get into the album, the back story surrounding it is worth mentioning. Down I Go had called it quits in 2011 much to the disappointment of a loving fanbase. The band’s main reason for dissolving was that they were moving to other parts of the world and thus could not continue as a functioning unit. One diehard fan, by the name of Halldór Heiðar Bjarnason had the wild idea of getting the band to reunite by getting funding through a kickstarter campaign that would pay for the band’s travel while they wrote and recorded for ten days at the Fljótstunga farm in Iceland. The farm is an isolated stretch of nature reserve that is an hour away from civilization. Bjarnason, who also owns the farm, established it for purposes of artist residency so that attendees could write, record and create while immersing themselves in Icelandic nature and culture. A routine recording experience this was not. And to top it all off, the album’s lyrical themes are centered around Icelandic folklore and legend.
Going into this album, I knew Down I Go was a spazzy mathcore band, so I wasn’t too caught off guard by the intro “Mother In The Pen” which contains only church organs and some perfectly executed vocal accompaniments. Then in comes “The Serpent Of Lagarfljot”, which for the first minute is what one would expect; screamy vocals paired with bendy, off-kilter Botch styled riffs. While grooving to a nice choppy riff, Down I Go comes in with more of the choir-like vocal arrangements on the first track, and before you can digest all that, a horn section full of all sorts of brass sneaks in and starts dancing with the choppy riff. This may seem awkward, but it’s a brilliant, and totally out-of-left-field move. Before you can start questioning who invited Tom Jones’ backup band to the party, Down I Go return back to mathy hardcore mode with ease. And that is the crux of what occurs routinely on this album. Down I Go wanders off into some smooth jazz rock opera type bits and still manage to find their way back to the more aggressive parts of their sound without you ever giving a second thought as to why.
Other points of interest include “Strike It While It’s Still On My Nose” where the vocals introduce you to the Three Tenors of Hardcore. Many of you are likely familiar with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and this song follows a similar path. It starts off with some nicely harmonized vocals that build into an operatic thumping section before giving way to the all too familiar mathy rock riffment that you should come to expect by now at six tracks in. “My Old Lady Wants Something For Her Whorl” is highlighted by a group singing section that sounds like a group of sailors having some drinks at a German beer garden. The ten songs are loaded with this type of stuff all throughout and are most definitely worth your attention if you’re in the mood for something a little different. This is one hell of a swan song if it winds up being Down I Go’s last album. You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You has me fascinated with all the elements at play here because the ebb and flow of the songwriting works so well that you take notice of the oddities, but it is in no way distracting or out of place.
You’re Lucky God, That I Cannot Reach You is available now through Holy Roar Records. If you’re down with the wild and wacky journey in this offering, throw Down I Go a like on Facebook and tell em’ the Toilet sent ya.