Whilst the title of this Rotterdam four pieces’ second album wasn’t designed as such, it certainly frames the current lockdown many of us are facing. Time spend at home, trying to preserve normality, but it’s very true that pleasant new things to wrap our brains around make things better if only fleetingly. In This House is a charmingly stripped back listen that rises up from the shadows of the most minimal wailing iteration of the Velvet Underground.
But the idea of being derivative often comes up in a negative light. Clearly wearing your influences on your sleeve is part of the integrity of the artist and it’s impossible to actually avoid. Existing work that’s moved you enough to use that similar formula and to create your own sonic palette. What’s important is that it’s more than mimicry, it’s an additive or reductive process that any creative endeavour really needs as its oxygen.
So, despite Lewsberg’s clanky metallic instrumentation and the deadpan vocal delivery by Arie Van Vliet that traces over John Cale’s Welsh tones, it still only takes a few seconds of Turn Left to realise this is somehow totally magical. 2 minutes and 17 seconds of razor-sharp fangs connecting together like a huge metal zip. At the point it feels like it’s never going to stop, it brutally and instantaneously does. Cold Light Of Day traces that sun blind laser beam drum with lean blues dusted guitars. The whole thing suggests huge chunks of rock music with the tiniest of gestural droplets.
At Lunch almost toys with Sunday Morning twinkles before expanding onto a tale of drinking or not drinking during the day. But then the sinuous lines of the instrumental Trained Eye, reminds me that what signified VU is literally peppered throughout so much. Everything from Television, through post rock to Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley’s work has this dry angular quality. When it’s easy to blur all sorts of imprecision under fuzz and effects, what’s the opposite effect when everything remotely extraneous is removed? Even the unexpected backing vocals by Shalita Dietrich comes from nowhere during From Never To Once feels unexpected, beautiful and elaborate.
The Door at just under 6 and a half minutes, feels like the album’s moody centrepiece as it slowly plods between pools of almost silence.
‘find the crack to let the words disappear that you don’t want to hear…’
leads towards a broken mangle feed-backing guitar howl, but again the squall is never other than controlled and measured. In contrast the upright grooves of Through the Garden beam with energy and light.
The unassuming Interlude develops into the briefest but densest soup on the entire album before Jacob’s Garden feels like walking into a completely different space with the vocals by Dietrich paint a woozy cobwebbed dream. Standard Procedures rounds of preceding with another deadpan spoken delivery by Van Vliet backed by the band that now feel like the previous intensity has opened up tiny pockets of something more relaxed before unpicking itself slowly, layer by layer, note by note, to silence.
In a little over 38 minutes, Lewsberg have cast their odd Dutch spell in your house. Despite the unavoidable comparisons, it’s a record we have already played loud and repeatedly. Whilst, the album throws so many knowing glances to things no doubt already seared into our brains, this narrow band width forces even closer listening. Rock music is well accustomed to excess but as In This House beautifully showcases, sometimes the tiniest gestures are the most far reaching.
In This House is out now and available here
This note was also posted on the band website:
Please don’t buy the album through online stores like *m*z*n, but support your local record store by ordering or pre-ordering the album there. Send us a photo or a screenshot of your receipt, and we’ll send you the digital version of the album, so you can listen to it while waiting for your physical copy.