The long-standing moniker of Martin Bowes’s Attrition has lurked far beneath the radar of even the underground, despite having been established for over three decades and creating a legacy of unmatched spooky tunes. Sliding comfortably into this or that genre, Attrition’s elusive presence has dabbled in every imaginable genre this side of the alternative. Even in 2013, Bowes sounds progressive, modern, and enthusiastic on The Unraveller of Angels.
In typical Attrition fashion, The Unraveller of Angels oozes with sinister ambiances that evoke a sort of noir mysticism, even on the dance-friendly “Narcissist,” a track that melds operatic shrieks, a tribal 4/4 beat, and crushing industrial riffs. “Histrionic” features Bowes’s unnerving, murmuring monotone across deep piano chords, delicate high falsettos and wailing violins. The hypnotic atmosphere of Unraveller is due in part to the beats and bass that undercut the orchestral moments, a deep flow of rhythm that’s almost primitive in execution. The operatic wails of the female lead intermingle with the neoclassical leads and malevolent rhythms, a pattern that evokes erotica and forbidden lust. “Suicide Engineer” is especially guilty of this, lead with a slow brooding electro synth and Bowses sultry deep mumbles that guide the track through a tortured violin and mounting tension. And “The Casual Agent” prepares the album for its final 3-song stretch, a descent into a deep, slow, morose dirge, climaxing in the lengthy “Hollow Latitudes” and falling gently in “The Internal Narrator.”
Attrition’s never-ending boldness through unconventional structure mixed with darkwave motifs is what pushes The Unraveller of Angels into a time of relevance and urgency, even this deep into its storied career. The masses of even the alternative scene might take them for granted, but the innovation and zest with which Bowes creates will forever be unmatched.