27* were last seen in the UK opening for Boston-based titans *Isis, but they sat awkwardly on a bill including the equally monstrous Cult of Luna and Brighton’s ‘answer to Converge’ (um, that’s shit by the way) Johnny Truant. They were the angel on your left shoulder to Isis’ flaming devil on the right, and in Maria Christopher they had a secret weapon to outdo anything that the heavyweights could throw at you rock-wise. She truly has the voice of an angel, and her presence on Isis’ ‘Oceanic’ (listen to ‘Weight’ and melt) gave it a heart on what would otherwise be a cold slab of almost-inaccessible noise.
‘Animal Life’ is 27’s second full-length, following ‘Songs From The Edge Of The Wing’ for Relapse, and their first to receive an official UK release. Since it’s a re-release too, Undergroove have kindly added an exclusive 5” to the package, which is very nice of them indeed. It’s not wholly necessary though, as ‘Animal Life’ is pure quality without the need for added extras. Trio Ayal Naor, Neil Coulon and Christopher combine to make ethereal soundscapes that enthral, but not to the point where their instantaneous nature becomes a little throw-away. ‘No Water’ and ‘Sky Walker’ are the equal, if not the better, of Portishead and Alpha respectively, whilst elsewhere Christopher’s sublime vocals add weight to pleasant acoustics on ‘Undone’ and ‘Devil’s Play’. The more hushed moments of ‘Animal Life’ have an air of Cat Power or Nina Nastasia, but aren’t quite in the same nu-folk boat, whilst the trip-hop style moments horribly show up the likes of coffee-table heroes Morcheeba (then again, what doesn’t?). Undergroove may be an unlikely home for these champions of quiet over loud, but there’s no reason whatsoever for you not to accept them into your own home.
8Mike Diver's Score