So, I sit at my desk. I am writing some gibberish about Renaissance Italy for my course. I decide to listen to the new AWOOGA album CONDUIT, ready to write a review. The opening track begins with a soft jangly intro. I am completely unaware that my volume is maxed out, I am completely unaware that within the next few seconds my desk will literally start bouncing due to the bass, that my Venus de Milo statue would fall from the speaker that it was so lovingly attached to. But that is the nature of AWOOGA and that is the nature of CONDUIT. Pure, unadulterated cosmic chaos.
To summarise, this album is seismic. It is nothing short of the embodiment of the word “heavy”.
The band are tighter than they have been on past releases, refining their Arrakis metal and turning it into the highly-prized spice that it is. If Denis Villeneuve’s re-work of the novel DUNE needs a soundtrack, then it need not be written, AWOOGA have written it. Riding the megalithic sand-worms into battle against your enemies has never been groovier, never been more stylish.
“Temporal” drowns in tasteful hooks, “Tabula Rasa” might evoke basic philosophical principles, but this song is certainly not a blank slate, it is the maturing sonic energies of a band on a pilgrimage. “Waterhole” might first appear like a relaxing break amid the sprints through the desert, but this song does not relent, maintaining the pace and riffing dexterity of each track so far. This track has one of the most enthralling and captivating hook/chorus progressions on the entire album. A testament to the trio’s song writing capabilities. “Blue Rose” reminds me of Douglas firs and damn fine coffee.
It has an authentic charm which solidifies AWOOGA’s vision and sound, a reference track for when the magician longs to see; “Who are Awooga??”. After the calming of the Blue Rose, “Bandit” kicks in with a mighty thump, transporting listeners to the netherworld, a place where bass-lines and guitar licks and thunderous drums transcend into more than music, and produce feeling. The guitar work is particularly tasty on this track, the phrases bouncing around my skull continuously. A subtle addition of weird and ever-changing time signatures also tickles my pickle.
“Witness” is the glorified cut of this LP, drawing in at 11:10. Squeamish Reebok Indie lads might recoil at a song exceeding the 3-minute mark, in spite of those, Witness forced me to bore witness to a cultish procession of dynamic and tempting rise and falls, cascading instrumentation and bellowing vocals sacrificing me for the pleasure of Eikþyrnir. Lightening cracks and the rain falls, this track maps my evening walk to the gym, as I mouth out the words “witness”, hoping no one sees me do it.
This song is a cavern, you begin by tumbling down the rocky face, hitting every rock and jut. You then spend a small amount of time in a heap on the floor, before forcing yourself to stand, to move on, to climb out brazenly. “Otherside” represents you, victorious. You have defeated the cavern, here is your prize! Congratulations. You made it. The ethereal whooshing will calm your soul, the addition of electronic instrumentation brings you into some form of logical reality. Like a lullaby, Tam voices the expedition, this is an end, but not the end.
James Borrowdale, Taran Ali, and Tam Ali have crafted something special in conjunction with lead producer Iago Lorenzo. This space-rock stoner metal grungegaze has done more for me than any ounce of Stardawg ever could. This album could stand among the titans of the genre, I only hope that it receives the audience it deserves.