Shriekback- Cormorant (Malicious Damage)
review by Joe del Tufo

Track Listing

1. Ronny
2. Sea Theory
3. Waterbaby
4. Huytfi Dbl Plus
5. The Strongest Wind That Blows
6. Load The Boat
7. Troublemeat
8. Reason With The Beast
9. Bonehead
10. Voiled Karletus
11. True Passage
12. Il Mystera Del Tempo

Cormorant is Shriekback's first full-length release since 2000's Naked Apes and Pond Life, and marks their strongest material since Big Night Music. For the neophytes, Shriekback are a band that emerged in the mid-eighties, defying genre and form with their sinewy rhythms and intelligent lyrics, grounded in the heady vocals of Barry Andrews and the throbbing basslines of Dave Allen. For a band that originally disbanded in 1989, they have been busy of late, with an ep in 2002 featuring most of the original lineup, and now a new full-length.

Cormorant is equally interesting for the cast of players it brings to the feast. On three of the tracks- Troublemeat, Reason With The Beast and Sea Theory- we're treated to a reunion of sorts with XTC frontman Andy Partridge on guitar. Fellow music geeks will recall that Shriekback vocalist Barry Andrews played keyboards on the early XTC albums. Twenty years later, they have recongealed on Cormorant. Another notable appearance is made by Veil's vocalist and Andrews' offspring Finn Andrews, who lends his pipes to the rumbling Load The Boat. And it's been a very long time since we've heard the wonderful harmonies of Wendy Partridge on a Shriekback release, but her simple addition immediately recalls the band's stronger efforts on Oil and Gold and Big Night Music. We also have the core band of Andrews, drummer Martyn Barker and guitarist Mark Raudva to round out the band.

Ronny sets the stage on Cormorant, Andrews unmistakable baritone drifting above Barker's complex percussion layers. Wendy Partridge's hushed vocals are the candle on the cupcake, immediately giving the track a classic Shriekback feel. It's by no means the strongest song on the disc, but it does let Shriekback fan know immediately that they are in for a treat, and that the music will be equal parts evolution and reflection. As always, we get meaty lines like "He is sanctified by the god of nails and splinters" and "Chastity and insomnia are a lousy mix."

Sea Theory is the first real standout track. Seeming like the intersection between Andrews' (equally excellent) solo work and the Shriekback of old, Sea Theory hooks you with an ambient loop, composed of sampled nautical (seagulls, boat noises) sounds. It sounds at once like 1982 and 2012, with its raw post punk delivery fortified by plucky Radioheady ambient keys and loops. Delicious vocals by Barry Andrews with backing support from Natasha Griffiths. More lines- "Everything's enormous once again" and "Everybody sighs and everybody multiplies, no one cares too much about the truth." Could they have been written by any other band?

If Sea Theory was the appetizer, Waterbaby is certainly the local delicacy. First heard during Andrews' live shows in early 2003, Waterbaby was the fresh new highlight of those shows, and it has now involved into a fully-formed, instantly classic Shriek tune. When Wendy P's vocals kick in at the chorus, we're back in 1985, witnessing an Oil and Gold track that got away. It is instantly infectious, playful and inventive. The list-like section of recursively chanted "Better than" lines is a Shriekback watermark, and anchors the song well. Key lines- "Never tell him he can't have it, now he wants it more than ever." and "Better bound up than paralysed, better the devil you recognize."

After the punchy and rhythmic instrumental interlude of Huytfi (I swear Andrews has just run out of unique words and has started to invent them), we get the great big The Strongest Wind That Blows. Big and brooding, this one would fit in well on Big Night Music. The Strongest Wind That Blows is very much the big brother of the recent track Feverish Hands, as they share a very similar languorous beat. "Everybody leaves this dance alone" and "My brains boiling in the pan- tests have shown they prove to be inedible." are two ear-catchers on this one.

The nautical theme continues on the post-goth Load The Boat. Finn Andrew's impassioned backing vocals are a nice (if not ironic) foil to his pop's swaggering drawl. Great throbbing synth bass on this one. Philosophical tidbits on Load The Boat: "Is there anyone not amazed, there's still fish to fry" and "Back there in '85- that whole scene, they said there were rainy days on their way- I thought they were just being mean." Rainy days, indeed.

Trouble Meat keeps the party rocking with a great interplay of Partridge's guitar and Barker's heavy drums. "It's not some mighty vision- it's more a dirty Polaroid of history." This one sounds like a more meaty evolution from the Go Bang sessions. The brief but memorable Reason With The Beast piggybacks Trouble Meat, and has Andy Partridge's most creative guitar on Cormorant. On Beast we hear Andrews at his most carnivorous, seething lines like "he's a pitbull that you can't impound... you've got to reason with the beast."

Bonehead opens with the heady bass lines of Douglas Alexander. This one sounds like late-era Shrieks, something that might have arrived around the time of Naked Apes and Pond Life. I don't know- it's hard to take a chorus like "God save all boneheads" too seriously, but the Shrieks haven't made me laugh since that KC & The Sunshine band cover. The quirky beats of Voiled Karletus follow and open sounding like a Prince house party. Again, more words in the title that Webster has no explanation for. Andrews' rapping here has a tribal fervor, and when he spews lines like "she's got the hatchet and the ratchet and the victor's spleen," he doesn't sound like the guy who was just singing about boneheads. Voiled Karletus is as sinister as Shriekback have ever sounded.

Cormorant closes with the functionally instrumental duo of True Passage and Il Mystera Del Tempo. True Passage is an exceptional ambient piece- as atypical an ambient track as you're likely to hear- with several distinct and interesting sections in its less than three minute lifespan. Il Mystera Del Tempo is a nice closer, with it's downbeat tempo and spoken Italian lines a soothing close to a very engaging and energetic disc.

Cormorant is both a welcome return to form and a powerful evolution for a band that have never failed to deliver classy, meaningful and toe-tapping music. Hearing some of the combinations produced by this collective at once recall their better moments, while also inventing new forms within their oeuvre. The canon of Shriekback is further fortified by this hefty dose of sonic bliss.

marillion- happiness is the road
tilt- million dollar wound
mickey simmonds- the seven colours of emptiness
ukz- radiation
pain of salvation - scarsick
icon- icon II, icon live
the pineapple thief- tightly unwound
planet p project- levittown (go out dancing part II)
nosound- lightdark
dengue fever- venus on earth
art of all- morgan
marillion- somewhere else
abigails ghost- selling insincerity
blackfield- blackfield II
damien rice- 9
the who- endless wire
the beach boys- good vibrations
the pineapple thief- little man
the killers- sam's town
tom petty- highway companion
hem- funnel cloud
emm gryner- the summer of high hopes
jeremy enigk- world waits
razorlight- razorlight
gps- window to the soul
iron maiden- a matter of life and death
thom yorke- the eraser
richard butler- richard butler
the flaming lips- at war with the mystics
ray davies- other people's live
david gilmour- on an island
nosound- sol29
jackson browne- running on empty 5.1
neal morse- ?
king crimson- 21st century guide to king crimson
shriekback- cormorant
depeche mode- playing the angel
pallas- the dreams of men
my morning jacket- z
riverside- second life syndrome
roger waters- ca ira
various artists- backs against the wall
riverside- out of myself
sigur ros- takk
killers- hot fuss
queen + paul rodgers- return of the champions
journey- generations
yes- the word is live
emmylou harris- heartaches & highways
van der graaf generator- remaster series
rob dickinson- fresh wine for the horses
annie- anniemal
dredg- catch without arms
foo fighters- in your honor
dream theater- octavarium
belle and sebastian- push barman to open old wounds
the go-betweens- oceans apart
porcupine tree- up the downstair (remaster 2005)
coldplay- x & y
nine inch nails- with teeth
aimee mann- the forgotten arm
van der graaf generator- present
christopher o'riley- hold me to this
glen phillips- winter pays for summer
new order- waiting for the siren's call
ben folds- songs for silverman
john doe- forever hasn't happened yet
trashcan sinatras- fez
adrian belew- side one
kaki king - legs to make us longer
longview- mercury
stereophonics- language. sex. violence. other?
for against- echelons
over the rhine- drunkard's prayer
kathleen edwards- back to me
kasabian- kasabian
porcupine tree- deadwing
the wedding present- take fountain
super furry animals - songbook
arena- pepper's ghost
snow patrol- final straw
rpwl- world through my eyes
tori amos- the beekeeper
kino- picture
monarch- the grandeur that was rome
spocks beard- octane
the wonder stuff- escape from rubbish island
richard barbieri- things buried
the pineapple thief- 12 stories down
the pineapple thief- 8 days later
the innoncence mission- now the day is over
zero 7- when it falls
pain of salvation- be
california guitar trio- white water
jelly jam- 2
tim bowness- my hotel year
van halen- the best of both worlds
glen burtnik- welcome to hollywood
charlie mars- charlie mars
porcupine tree- voyage 34 (2004 remaster)
saint etienne- travel edition
lanterna- highways review
hellboys- cha cha with the hellboys review
persona non grata- the fine art of living review
tegan and sara- so jealous review
guadalcanal diary- 2x4 reissue review
voices in the wire- signals in transmission review
roger waters- to kill a child/ leaving beirut review
luna- rendezvous review
jim white- drill a hole in that substrate and tell me what you see review
the drive-by truckers- the dirty south review
the blue nile - high review
lovedrug- pretend you're alive review
twilight singers- she loves you review
keane- hope and fears review
winds- the imaginary direction of time review
kristeen young- x review
asia- silent nation review
macha- forget tomorrow review
crystal method- legion of boom dvd-audio review
kevin moore- ghost book review
marillion- don't hurt yourself singles review
attrition- dante's kitchen review
rush- feedback review
tortoise- it's all around you review
division of laura lee- does not compute review
peccatum- lost in reverie review
iq- dark matter review
bass communion- ghosts on magnetic tape review
the push stars- paint the town review
virgin black- elegant... and dying review
marillion- marbles review
the streets- a grand don't come for free review
the veils- the runaway found review
all about eve- let me go home review
john young band- live review
mary lou lord- baby blue review
the divine comedy- absent friends review
pink floyd- the final cut (2004 remaster) review
prot-kaw- before became after review
jeffrey gaines live review
mocean worker- enter the mowo review
starsailor- silence is easy review
pineapple thief- variations review
lloyd cole- music in a foreign language review
david sylvian- blemish review
spock's beard- feel euphoria eview
guy manning- press pack sampler review
magellan- impossible figures review
the tangent- the music that died alone review
john gorka- live from grace church photos and review
hothouse flowers- into your heart review
charlotte martin- on your shore review
rasputina- frustration plantation review
stellastarr*- stellastarr* review
vast- nude review
sparks- lil' beethoven review
the damnwells- bastards of the beat review
dave gahan- paper monsters review
king crimson- power to believe review
fish- field of crows review
porcupine tree- in absentia dvd-audio review
new model army- great expectations review
antimatter- unreleased 1998 - 2003 review
catie curtis: dreaming in romance languages review
the gathering- sleepy buildings review
twilight singers play blackberry belle review
vienna teng- warm strangers review
opeth- lamentations dvd review
courtney love- america's sweetheart review
blackfield review
anathema- a natural disaster review
nearfest 2003 coverage
neal morse solo photos- metuchen, nj
porcupine tree broadcast
alpha- stargazing review
david sylvian at the tla
emm gryner at the point
barry andrews at the tin angel
tweaker:2 am wakeup call review
cure- join the dots review
fish live from the tla with john wesley
spearhead- everyone deserves music review
miles hunt (wonderstuff) live

full archives coming soon!


Studio M Live
818 North Market St, Suite 2R
Wilmington, DE 19801



Copyright © 1997-2004 Studio M Live, Inc. All rights reserved. All content on is owned by Studio M Live and may not be reproduced without written permission. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this policy. If you are looking for Custom Injection Molding you are at the wrong site, and should really be at Applied Tech Products.