Throughout their history together, the Calgary, AB-based indie rock/darkwave/New Wave/post-punk act Ultrviolence have developed a reputation for adhering to old-school DIY principles and for frequently ignoring the clichés and dictates of the music industry machine. And over the past couple of years, the band has caught the attention of the blogosphere — and in particular this site, for a sound that seemingly draws from Joy Division, Interpol, Viet Cong and others.
Since the release of last year’s Black Sea EP, the band has gone through a massive lineup change with Nate Jespersen (vocals, bass), the sole founding member, collaborating with several members of Vancouver, BC-based indie rock band ACTORS. Produced by ACTORS’ Jason Corbett, the project’s much-anticipated follow-up to Black Sea EP, Forty Knives EP finds Jespersen and the band’s new lineup building upon the moody, post-punk sound that first caught the attention of this site and the blogosphere while thematically evoking the dark and seemingly unending solitude that arises when one allows themselves to be completely isolated from the world.
“Guillotine,” Forty Knives’ first single is a hauntingly moody and atmospheric track, which finds the band pairing jangling guitar chords played through reverb and delay pedal, shimmering synth chords, a propulsive bass line and a metronomic-like drumming paired with Jespersen’s equally moody baritone vocals. Interestingly, with my 38th birthday being yesterday, this particular song evokes something profoundly familiar — the lingering and embittering ghosts and ill-feelings of a particularly dysfunctional and/or ambivalent relationship; the awareness of time passing by and of the built-in regret that you’ve squandered the most valuable and important commodity you’ll ever know — time; and that feeling of stepping away from the wreckage of a lengthy relationship and not quite knowing what to do next or how to even go about it. And as a result, the song possesses a visceral ache.
The recently released video for the song nods at Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and INXS’ “Need You Tonight”/”Mediate” as the video features a man on the side of the road, holding cardboard signs with the song’s lyrics; however, this man is hitchhiking with a sense of desperate urgency.