Tenebrous Liar: The Cut – album review

Tenebrous LIAR

Tenebrous Liar – The Cut
LP / CD / DL
Out now

8/10

Louder than War’s Ioan Humphreys has a listen to Steve Gullick’s Tenebrous Liar album The Cut and is blown away.

Steve Gullick, the photographer, should need absolutely no introduction whatsoever. However, if you are reading this, and have no idea who he is, then 1. You should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves and go to bed with no tea, and 2. Ok come back downstairs I forgive you. Now have your tea and Google him and check out his portfolio. Then go straight back to bed because you are really pissing me off!

Steve Gullick has been taking photos of bands, singers, artists, etc for several decades now and I would defy you not to recognise any of his works or the acts he has captured. His abilities as a photographer/2D artist is renowned and respected throughout the world, so it is absolutely fascinating that he also feels the need to front a band too.

Tenebrous Liar developed as the result of a musical urge back in 2005. A home recording resulted in an album released by Fire Records the following year and it quickly became apparent that Gullick needed a band in order to perform live. Having enlisted the help of an eclectic and ever evolving line-up of friends who made a further five albums in as many years, Tenebrous Liar played shows with a very diverse selection of artists including Scout Niblett, Josh T. Pearson, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Foo Fighters, Duke Garwood, Oxbow, Soulsavers, and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy. This current version of Tenebrous Liar is made up of Brendan Casey on bass, Ben Edgar on drums & Steve Gullick on guitar and vocals and their latest release The Cut was released in June 2017.

The opening title track employs a haunting harmonium and rattling piano that really sets the mood for the rest of the album. Stop Believing has clanging guitar stabs with a slow drum beat that creates some sort of demented processional accompaniment to Gullick’s vocal preaching.

The slow burner of Alienation starts with a three chord dirge that continues throughout like a nagging voice. The vocals are a little lower in the mix this time and this creates both a tension and layer of sound that adds to the melancholic lyrics and the eventual climactic guitar dirge. ‘Words’ is another lingering track and the lyrics are very raw. This is the first time that the haunting piano accompaniment has been used and with the lyrical refrain of “it brings me down”, the whole piece manages to be both beguiling and incredibly sad at the same time. It’s quite beautiful actually.

Lowland is another guitar dirge yet with gorgeously sung vocals and a surprisingly effective short song. Clever stuff. John is one of the stand out tracks on this LP. It’s another slow burner that has steady percussive backing with added maracas and a distorted guitar playing two chords and/or bending strings. Either way, it’s very effective and Gullick’s singing voice suits this music perfectly. Yet again, the tempo of the track feels like some warped carnival song a la The Carney by The Bad Seeds. It seeps and squirms under ones skin like the maggots of a blow fly.

As the album progresses you have more atmospheric noise over guitar with the far too short Sinking and the noisy, yet tuneful cacophony that is This Ground.

As the album draws to a close, the epic 7.35 of Swing For Me is another track that takes it’s time to build up the tension and the aural textures that Gullick provides. This track is akin to walking through a swamp at dusk. Similarly the minimal percussive creep that builds during Belong and the strained and prone vocals mix perfectly with the guitar dirge that could easily soundtrack an episode of Westworld. Great stuff.

Album closer Forever is another haunting piano piece that is gorgeously sung and is another one of the stand out tracks on the album.

The whole album is a mixture of rock, dirge, instrumentation, experimentation. And all the while it is accompanied by Gullick’s expansive vocal range and style that makes Tenebrous Liar a massively creative musical outlet that comfortably sits alongside his 2D photographic output. The Cut is yet another solid release from Tenebrous Liar that cements their position in the current crop of experimental bands that have so much to offer. Essential stuff.

See Tenbroud Liar live:

Tenebrous Liar can be found on their website, Bandcamp and Facebook,

Words by Ioan Humphreys. More writing by Ioan can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find him on Twitter at @ioan_humphreys.

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