A Lack of Empathy by HauntsRelease date: December 18, 2017
Label: Truthseeker Music
A Lack of Empathy is a great album for setting a mood. Certainly not a happy one; it’s a dark, sombre affair. It’s the kind of music you’d expect to hear in the rainy streets of Paris, a soundtrack to every breakup, argument, failure or dark thought, every low point in life. It’s a clichéd hard times movie score, yet the melancholic mood it sets is so all-encompassing that it isn’t hard to get swept along.
Haunts rather awkwardly describe themselves as a “collective of musicians” rather than a band. Hailing from Kent, they are led by ex-Human Future guitarist Philip Short (and feature many other members of that band). Interestingly though it is the violin that is front and centre – with no vocals involved, Dalma Gebe’s bow takes charge of proceedings, creating an evocative atmosphere for every one of this release’s 29 minutes. Indeed, when words are added, using samples such as on second track ‘No Glory, No Steam, No Fire’ something is lost rather than gained. The album works better when the music is a cypher to the listener’s own feelings, rather than an attempt to influence them with trite moral messages. Thankfully, they are used sparingly.
Opener ‘Creep Pulse’ doesn’t fall into this trap, and sets the pace nicely. It has an electronic undertone throughout the entire track that does a great job of creating a feeling of paranoia. It feels menacing, so that when the violin does come into play it can only add to the tension. All three tracks follow in this manner and it feels very similar to how Godspeed You Black Emperor work – the peaks and troughs of the music structured in exactly the right way to create the mood the band wanted. It is only towards the end of final track ‘Crux’ that the tension really breaks, with a euphoric swelling that ends the EP on a (somewhat) hopeful note.
A Lack of Empathy is a fantastic offering, and one that will hopefully lead to great things for the “collective” behind it. Offering a unique blend of violins and electronica mixed with traditional post rock, its melancholic meanderings are best digested in one sitting, taking the listener on a journey through their own emotions and perhaps offering some kind of catharsis. It may be dark and bleak, but this is a release with a lot more warmth than the name suggests.