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Mary And The Ram; Photo Credit: Scot Greenwell (Darc Artz)
As of late, The Big Takeover has been covering a number of projects that legendary producer John Fryer has been involved with, starting with his latest project Black Needle Noise, which carries on the tradition of his 4AD cornerstone collaboration This Mortal Coil, both in terms of its sonic basis but also the rotating-guest-musician principle. We also recently introduced you to Jason Herring and The Mystery Plan , whose Queensland Ballroom album he also produced.
If you ever were a fan of The The, Peter Murphy, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Blancmange, and/or Shriekback, you should have a listen to the latest project he’s given the Midas touch to – British post-punk electronic rock two-piece Mary And The Ram have announced their forthcoming first single “The Cross”, which Fryer has mixed.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Fryer would be involved, as the band exhibits a recognizable semblance to Love and Rockets, who he also produced. As Impose Magazine once wrote “John Fryer has practically soundtracked your entire life” – indeed, so many of them are iconic artists like Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, HIM, Love and Rockets, and Cocteau Twins.
Comprised of two tracks – “The Cross” and b-side “The Dream” – Anonymous Records will be releasing Mary and The Ram’s debut single in the new year. This is the first release ever for the duo and The Big Takeover has the pleasure of premiering “The Dream”.
Based in York, Mary And The Ram is Kiran Tanna (The THING) on vocals, guitars, keys and programming) and drummer Dom Smith (Seep Away, The THING). Kiran’s background is mainly in dance, poetry, and performance art, having founded the internationally-touring dance company VIAPerformance. Dom is involved in numerous musical projects and is also a potent force in the music community as editor of Soundsphere Magazine.
Kiran Tanna explains how the two of them came to collaborate under this new project: “We’ve known each other for years, in the local music, music journalism and performance art scene. I come from a performance art background, and Dom had been to a few of my gigs. I had been to some of his. I have to say, he gave me a great review for a Tom Waits cover I recorded in 2016. Very flattering. It took a few years for our schedules to align but eventually I started programming and playing synths with one of Dom’s existing bands – a far doomier act called The THING! It wasn’t long until we realized that our shared love of old-school industrial, arty-punk and dark, gritty electronic rock needed another outlet. I’ve written and published a fair amount of poetry and spoken word, and I’d been slowly, slowly turning it into tracks, when Dom arrived.”
Tanna continues, “He really kicked me into making actual music for it, that people might want to listen to, and into putting together a schedule for release, and so on. I recorded and mixed a couple of tracks towards a concept for an EP and he sent it out to a bunch of producers, including John Fryer (Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode), who worked on these singles… That made it significantly more real for me – and so we started putting together a vibrant live show, organizing a launch event and composing the songs that will be on the EP. Considering my background is mainly in dance, poetry and performance art, Dom has been the guy who got me up and doing in terms of music. He’s a productive whirlwind and he’s an animal on the drums.”
“The Dream” enshrouds the listener in a spare and noir atmosphere of reverberating percussion, sharp electronics, a subterranean, pulsing beat, and foreboding, chillingly delivered spoken word vocals. “The Dream” can metaphorically seen as a drug, the author as somber as one who is unable to grasp that which is directly in reach but then breaks free of the social shackles that has kept him constrained all this time. That huge transition point in the song takes place at 4:18 minutes, when everything blows up in the best way possible – ample, jaggedly grinding guitar overdrive and full-gage drum strikes – here we find passion in the release provided here.
On this track, Kiran Tanna comments, ““The Dream” is like a hallucination. It’s an attempt to capture that feeling – that thing that spreads a little more every day – something that will not go away. And then to ritualize it. It is a shadow of the character I am writing about… But that character is only me in another place and time. At the bottom of it. I am all these people. And some of the electronic bleakness of the sound – and later the aggression – comes out of an attempt to tell a story about where I am creatively and emotionally at the moment. And a desperate attempt to reach out to whoever is on the other side, listening. Maybe it’s a cry for help… If it is, it doesn’t really hope for answers.”
As for the title track of this single “The Cross” immediately called to mind associations with Peter Murphy’s “The Line Between The Devils Teeth (And That Which Cannot Be Repeat)”, but that is another track, to be previewed at a later time. What new-found fans of Mary and The Ram can look forward to already at this point is that, somewhere around the middle of 2018, the band shall release their debut EP and launch a series of interactive live shows.
“The Cross” single will be released on Friday, January 12th via Anonymous Records and is now available for pre-order via Bandcamp
Vocals, guitars, programming by Kiran Tanna
Drums by Dom Smith
Produced by John Fryer
Art direction / design / cover artwork by Scot Greenwell of darC Artz
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