Arts

Noise Annoys: Malojian redraw their map with This Is Nowhere

Malojian recorded This Is Nowhere in Chicago with Steve Albini

THE day is finally upon us: the new Malojian LP This Is Nowhere is out and the band are playing gigs to celebrate. Sadly (for non ticketholders, at least), mainman Stevie Scullion's trio of solo dates this weekend – at The Fat Gherkin in Moira tonight, No Alibi's in Belfast tomorrow and Saint's in Saintfield on Sunday night – are all long sold-out.

However, if you missed out, don't despair – there's another extra special Malojian show currently on sale.

The band will be back in Belfast on November 5 for a live performance at The MAC, where there will also be a special screening of Colm Laverty's new documentary about the making of the album, also called This Is Nowhere.

Tickets cost £12 from TheMACLive.com and were still available at time of writing.

"But what about the album?" I hear you cry.

Well, This Is Nowhere – available to buy right now at Malojian.bandcamp.com or in person from Rollercoaster in Kilkenny – is of course the first Malojian record recorded outside of Ireland.

However, just because it was made while the band (which also includes Mike Mormecha on drums/whatever and bassist Joe McGurgan) were breathing cold Chicago air and Steve Albini's name is on the sleeve, don't be expecting a noisy rock album to rival In Utero.

As signposted by recently released teaser I'm Alright, TIN is not a massive sonic reinvention, but rather the sound of a really good band playing music in a really good studio with a really good engineer at the controls.

You won't be surprised to learn then that the results also sound really, really good.

Percussive opener and title track This Is Nowhere (Aren't You Lonely) sets the tone, a groovesome affair that packs quite a velvet glove-clad punch: the grit of its big Albini drum sound, fingers on strings squeaks and nasty fuzz pedal guitar tempered by sweet vocal melodies/harmonies and spacey echo effects.

The band then stomp straight through the aforementioned schadenfreude-laced strummer I'll Be Alright and into Dam Song, a cool country rocking number with a definite Neil Young & Crazy Horse vibe that makes it an early highlight.

The woozy wurlitzer-augmented Lean on Me slows the pace with a softer, late night love song that builds nicely from its hushed start to a swelling full band finish before the croonsome, ghostly album centrepiece You're A Part of Me makes with the pretty fingerpicking and mournful strings for another stand-out moment.

Calling Borneo is a looser, jauntier, jammier affair bolstered by mellotron, extra percussion and fuzzed-out guitar which should be a bit of a runaway monster when it's played live, while cowboy song Feel so New gradually gathers in intensity as the band make maximum use of their vocal prowess to bring a tale of second and third chances to life in a majestic manner.

Singing is also key to the wistful, finger-picked Whittle Me Down, which finds Stevie duetting with himself as cello, violins and piano help set the mood, before the band sign off in style with a lovely piano-based lament called The Great Decline that should bring a tear to the eye of pretty much anyone with a pulse.

Malojian were already one of our brightest musical hopes before this album, but there's no doubt that the excitement and pressure of recording with a 'name' producer in a foreign land has helped bring out the very best in them.

Thus, This is Nowhere is destined to put them on the map like nothing they've done before – and where they go from here is surely only limited by their own ambition.

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