I first encountered the Chasms on Dandelion Radio, the excellent internet radio station that plays the sort of weird, uncommercial and unfashionable music that I like. I immediately fell for their brand of overwhelmingly dark and noisy rock because it reminded me of a cross between My Bloody Valentine (minus the pop sensibilities) and Flying Saucer Attack. The new album “Winter Arcade” finds them treading the same maniacal ground but with increased fury. Imagine the audio equivalent of the scrawl filled crazy notebooks in serial killer films. Their trademark sound is a bass guitar distorted and expanded to fill one half of your brain, while a shrieking guitar floods the other half of with feedback, underpinned by steady, ominous drumming . Through all this noise comes the deranged, lilting Northern tones of their frontman, who tells stories and anecdotes of an uncertain age and pedigree in a compelling whisper. Using this limited palette they’ve managed to create their own world of monochromatic, slightly Victorian and slightly unsettling vignettes of noise. And it’s a good world. It’s not just me that thinks that, it’s virtually the entire staff of Dandelion (most of whom I respect enormously) and everyone I introduce them to.
So it was with sadness this week that I read on the Chasms website that they’re on hiatus. To take this decision so soon after the release of a new album doesn’t bode well, and it wasn’t a particularly optimistic message either. I have long been arguing (seemingly with the whole world) that overcrowding, dumbing down and piracy are amongst many powerful forces slowly strangling music. And I don’t mean the music of U2 or Adele. They’re safe because they’re lowest common denominator and utterly formulaic. Music that tries to do anything different, or has no public profile, is in no position to fight back against these dastardly forces ( I love a bit of melodrama) so essentially we’re going to end up in a situation where we get to choose exactly what we want to eat, provided we want it stupid and unimaginative.
To some extent I’m playing Nostradamus here. The lure of music and its varying rewards will always entice a constant rotation of fresh meat into the grinder, it always has. But when bands of this caliber, with albums this good, are dropping by the way side (even if it is just for a rest), then we need to wonder about why. Come back soon, The Chasms. Oh and the albums really, really good (and free). Get it here :