Malka - The Constant State

by Lawrence Prigg Rating:8 Release Date:2015-03-25

No other shoegaze album remains as universally coherent as In Ribbons by Pale Saints. The chiming scale of a metallic instrument brings to mind escalating flurries levitated up and down through a breezy wind on the release’s second track, 'Ordeal', providing the quintessential coda for a shoegazing cut building from a slow-burn to an explosive crescendo. It perfectly encapsulates the ethos of this genre of music, that effects-laden, guitar-driven, wall-of-sound production. It was the percussive interplay on In Ribbons that separated Pale Saints from Lush, perhaps their only other competitor in creating atmospheric, ethereal music that could build to a sustained explosive climax.

And while they will never replace Pale Saints as my favorite shoegazing outfit, the emergence of Brooklyn outfit Malka two-and-a-half decades later exercises somewhat of a conveyor-belt pull on me, drawing me back into a slipstream depositing me backward literally half a lifetime ago, with their release A Constant State mining, yet not directly aping, many of the same universal elements that established In Ribbons as a touchstone recording, and Lush as a potent contemporary, though if pressed I would have to say that Malka’s sound almost extends and refines upon the latter at times, rather than the former.

A sense of both quiescence and sustained explosiveness drive the first two of the cuts on A Constant State, 'A Flock of Crows' and 'For Now We Live', and is also prevalent throughout 'Diamond Girl' and 'Swoon'. But it’s the addition of clever, pulsating, percussive interplay, creating a lockstep groove and keyboards providing haunting atmospherics, that lends a highly melodic, slightly melancholic tone to 'Wolves and Sheep', 'Mientras Se Respira', and 'For Now We Live', the latter two building toward a sweeping explosive crescendo, with other tracks mining a slight post-rock edge or providing hints of moody psychedelia.

At times, a real sense of heaviness and density propel these tracks along, only for the tempo to change and bathe or cocoon your ears (and mind) in concentrated levels of radiance. This is just about the only thing I’m playing on my iPod right now, and  whether you were there when the scene started or are a recent newcomer to the shoegazer sound, I suggest grabbing this rascal when it becomes widely available. You won’t regret it. 

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