Three years is a ridiculous gestation period for anything, let alone an album, but, sure enough, work on Immense’s ‘Hidden Between Sleeves’ did indeed begin way back in 2000. Thankfully for the Bristolian quintet, it has matured more like a fine shiraz than an already-opened haddock fillet, as is the case with many other over-aged, and subsequently over-produced releases.
With a name like Immense you’d be perfectly within your listening rights to expect a certain number of grandiose musical epics per album, and the band deliver exactly that. ‘Shave The Gong’ is almost unforgivingly bombastic, recalling a particularly agitated 90 Day Men in full flow. That comparison rears its head again a few tracks later on the slightly more understated ’22,000’. Both tracks are assisted in the vocal department by Seattle resident Rocky Votolato, the brother of The Blood Brothers’ Cody. Rocky’s delivery is a little more restrained than his sibling’s, but the lyrics retain a suitably picture-painting quality, rich in imagery and ideas; take ‘Skitty Piano’ for example: “May your soft hands turn to wood screws each time you wipe your eyes.” Eeew.
Elsewhere, instrumental numbers glide by with a Godspeed-like grace, yet icicle-sharp samples give them a creepy, unnerving edge not unlike the more organic and ethereal moments from The Future Sound Of London’s back catalogue, ‘Dead Cities’ in particular (listen to ‘Track 20’, which is actually track five of nine). All told, ‘Hidden Between Sleeves’ far from disappoints – it sucks the listener in with luscious, snow-flecked soundscapes and spasmodic, balladic blindsides, before squeezing them ‘til they’re rung clean. It’s come-down music for those that want to enhance the told-you-so pain of a hangover rather than suppress it, and all the more gloriously ugly-beautiful for it. Fingers crossed then that the follow up doesn’t take another three years.
8Mike Diver's Score