Ceremony - Safranin Sounds

The 1980's are not always revered for giving us the finest musical experience. Madness aside we don't always look back with fondness to the generation that not only gave us banana yellow shoulder-padded suits, but also the finer parts of the gothic scene. Crawling out from a dark corner in history (dark by choice, not because the lighting was bad) came shoegazing, a style of music Influenced by acts such as My Bloody Valentine, The Cure, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, and The Jesus and Mary chain.

Ceremony is made up from the remaining members of the band Skywave; Paul Baker and John Fedowitz having split after Oliver Ackermann moved to New York. Safranin Sounds is the band's 3rd album on Berlin based label No Emb Blanc and over time they have gained a cult following of fans.

Safranin Sounds is 20 tracks of shoegaze, each with their own slightly different polish. It's a sound clash; many different noises coming at you from many different directions and over the crash of sound waves float a vocal track that's sour and dour in typical gothic fashion. Like My Bloody Valentine and Sonic Youth at times the sound smashes against itself, reverberating notes that seem ill at ease with each other. I found myself straining to hear the vocal track over screeching guitars and a drumbeat that in some songs felt detached or overly engineered.

The standout track of the album for me was without question I heard you call my name. This track has class and all the key elements come together. The drum track is simple, the guitar track harks back to the Smiths or early Cure and the vocals are layered in solid harmony. Our Last Goodbye also carries some class, heading more in the direction of Joy Division it offers some light relief from wall to wall guitars and drone sonics of the other tracks.

20 tracks is a lot for an album. If you're a fan then consider it great value for money, but for the newcomer I think it's too much. I also feel a little more could have been done to break up the songs as the style and sounds were too similar. Our last goodbye and I Heard You Call My Name broke this up, but not often enough. Ceremony is shoegazing quality, but If you're new to this band, Safranin Sounds should not be your introduction.