Drahla: Useless Coordinates (Captured Tracks) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, June 6th, 2020  


Useless Coordinates

Captured Tracks

Jun 12, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Drahla love Sonic Youth. This is an unavoidable fact that looms over the Leeds three-piece's debut album Useless Coordinates. But that obsession forms only one piece of a puzzle that creates an overall image of meticulously crafted, lovingly calculated, and vibrant post-punk. It draws on its obvious influencesNew York No Wave, Wire, The Pop Group, Leeds legends Gang of Fourbut transcends the genre-rehash pitfalls of so many contemporary post-punk bands.

Adopting the detached vocal musings of Kim Gordon, vocalist/guitarist Luciel Brown ponders some of this era's biggest societal issuesgender politics, environmental destruction, wealth gapsthrough cryptic poetry, with the occasional glimpse of polemic.

The lyrical riddle of "Invisible Sex" drills down into modern gender identity and is as complex and thought-provoking as the subject matter. "Give a gender/A profile to assign to/A glorious reflection to elevate my DNA/Visual exterior for opinion/Visual exterior for submission," sings Brown over surging guitar discordance, with all the power of Fugazi fronted by the aforementioned Gordon.

This is essentially what gives Drahla an edge in a world of post-punk wannabes, they have something to say, and so much conviction in doing so that they don't need to do it directly. This is socially conscious art, forging a modern political message from the sounds of the past.

Teetering constantly on the edge of collapse, Useless Coordinates is an exercise in controlled chaos. This is all the more apparent when unofficial fourth member, Chris Duffin is unleashed. The saxophonist, himself a member of Xam Duo, attacks the tunes with skronky, anti-jazz sax, reminiscent of James Chance's violent take down of acceptable form.

On tunes like "Serenity," a departure for the album, Duffin adds a new driving force whilst deconstructing the idea of melody. And this is a common theme on Useless Coordinates. Catchy punk riffs and likeable hooks are dragged kicking and screaming through scratchy aggressive walls of noise and effects pedal treatments.

"Stimulus for Living" is a condensing of Sonic Youth's career balancing their dark discordance with the MTV friendly alt rock they hit their biggest successes with.

As the title suggests this is an album for a society that knows exactly where it is heading, but that destination is nowhere anyone wants to gothe coordinates are of no use on this journey. Useless Coordinates is not a new approach but a refashioning of past ideas as a powerful, vibrant tool to question the world through art. Drahla has nailed this concept. (www.drahla.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10


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