EP Review: UpCDownC – ‘Black Dracula’

The Internet is littered with free stuff: Youtubing plumbers will happily do themselves out of jobs showing you how to fix an errant ballcock; cod-psychologists will invite you to download their not-a-penny-to-pay ebooks about how they have found the answer to life the universe and everything.

And social networking sites will provide you with the service of mining your data without any (of your) money changing hands.

Or there’s ‘Black Dracula’ from the self-described ‘progressive, sludge, horror synth outfit’, UpCDownC.

The filthy noise merchants put it up for free download shortly before the release of their long player, I, Awake, which features both the eponymous track and another version of ‘Am I Awake? Pt 4’. A sampler, then, this may be. But oh, what a sampler!

‘Black Dracula’ is full of heavy duty, dirty, grimy sounds. It is, in fact, a glorious beast.

As might be expected from an EP called ‘Black Dracula’ – especially an EP called ‘Black Dracula’ by UpCDownC – it comes from a rather dark place.

The opening, kind of title track, ‘Black Dracula – EYE/Animation Version’, opens with a gentle, if eerie ring, which is then joined by a meandering plucked guitar and a synthesised ostinato before giving way to what should probably be called – if it isn’t already – The Full UpC: great big, thick, brooding guitar noise and thundering drums – or possibly a steam training hurtling through the night. I’m not sure which.

In typical UpCDownC style, there are lulls and rises in volume – at one point shimmering, industrial white noise threatens to destroy the central nervous system. And then, finally, after much in the way of dense and dirty guitar work, we get the climax: the sound of violent exorcism.

It’s almost the sort of thing you could have expected The Nice to have produced if they had survived to the days of post-rock.

‘Am I Awake? Pt 4 – Papercrane Live Session’ gets down to business much sooner with lingering, stodgy chords from a heavily distorted guitar giving way to a melody that churns away as if demand for butter has risen ten-fold. It is spectacular stuff. If headbanging didn’t already exist, this tune would create it.

The EP finishes with a live version of ‘Black Dracula’. More brooding. More noise. More adventures in demon removals. You wouldn’t want it any other way.

It’s an excellent nugget of racket-eering from a band who have long perfected the art of experimental soundscapes.

You can get the free download of Black Dracula and buy the album I, Awake from the band’s Bandcamp page

Read more about UpCDownC and a whole host of other Medway bands and artists in Do It Yourself: a History of Music in Medway (Cultured Llama).

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