The Black Ships are the new project from Verve guitarists Nick McCabe and Simon Jones who have teamed up with violinist Davide Rossi and drummer Mig Schillace.
The new E.P.Kurofune is being given away free on their Facebook site, I had a look to see what I thought.
‘Kurofune’ in case you’re wondering is the name given to western trade ships which arrived in Japan in the 16th and 19th centuries. They were also called ‘The Black Ships’ because…well they were black.
So there you go, the band and the EP’s names have been explained.
Moving on then to what it actually sounds like.
“Rain Down On Me” opens up this E.P, instantly introducing us to some raking guitars and slow jam like feel. The vocals are something like a Radiohead song from ‘The Bends’ and there is a splattering of instruments and different layers of sound. The constant drums, the guitars being caressed and something that sounds like a trumpet whirling away.
Parts of the chorus, a female sounding ‘yeah,yeah’ sound glorious and happy, uplifting.
A lovely start, already the freedom of the instrumental elements is showing with the song being a testament to the works of McCabe and Rossi in creating some intriguing sounds.
There is enough vocal work for it to function as a song, but also the array of sounds and emotions bouncing around from the instrumental work is astounding.
Second comes “Dawn Till Dusk” which starts off with a slow quiet whistle noise its eerie and almost like something from the start of a horror film, building the suspense…
Then comes a bird song, setting the scene, rustling and then some McCabe inspired noises.
It becomes at this point almost a challenge to describe the sounds properly. I am going to go with Science Fiction films effect noises, as the guitars build up this weird suspense.
The comes the crescendo as the drums kick in and liven up the pace. It is like an elaborate waiting game, what is coming next? It is an effort that sums up perfectly the tone of the E.P. it is dark, mysterious, broody and well…pretty good.
Finally comes “Northern Rock” which starts with the voice of a man talking about credit rises over the top of some serious guitars. Whether they are trying to make an economic point or sticking the man in because it sounds good, I don’t know but it seems to do both, I have the word ‘credit’ in my head and LOVE this E.P.
Siren like guitars and a low plodding rhythm set the scene with ‘money, money, money’ played over the top.
The sounds by now are bizarre and quite wonderful, some keyboard/trumpet sounds echo through the song. Fast paced, crashing drums give the song a quality beat and this is some seriously good stuff.
The mid part of this song also brings out an extended solo on the guitar which sounds mightily impressive and leads into a section which sounds every bit an impromptu and joyful jam, getting quicker and quicker.
The chants at the end add a sharp edge to the song, a clever touch to round off the EP
A joyful, joyful tune.
This is a brilliant E.P which gives 4 fantastic musicians license to roam wherever they feel.
Clearly, McCabe and Jones ave relished unleashing themselves without the restrictions of The Verve setting. Genius music making.