My esteemed editor, Marcus Pan, is forever looking for ways to throw me for a loop. Most recently, he sent this home-made 3 song sampler my way, which had absolutely no information about it whatsoever, other than a letter to him from one of the band members which was tucked inside the bulky envelope which contained other assorted goodies.
Upon reading the letter it became apparent that this little gem was in fact handed to him at Convergence 8. These burned tracks comprise three selections of a forthcoming album from the band Incus. Additionally, there is a guest vocalist on the first track, Yanka Rupkina of La Mystere Des Voix Bulgares, who has also recorded with Kate Bush and beautifully complements the track Just One Thing. Almost immediately after receiving the package, this same band member, Karen Langlie, contacted me to make herself available for any questions regarding the band or the music. (Score 20 points for Incus for having such diligence and consideration!)
First impressions do count for something when one is supposed to do a review and mine continued to rise due to the professionalism of the contact information exchange. After the CD-R was put into the player, the only thing that I wanted to know is WHEN is the full album becoming available?! Langlie later informed me that it should be available in the Fall of 2002.
Just One Thing has a rather mournful lilting that set the mood quite appropriately. Rupkina's vocals came forth in a rather tortured and spectral backdrop, complementing lead vocalist Jason Cohen. The track is a combination of haunting orchestral work, Rasputina-like rock and a mix of jungle-like percussion. Needless to say, it is well crafted and quite unique. Cohen's vocals sounded quite familiar and then it dawned on me. Imagine Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance in a goth rock type of band. The vocals are THAT passionate and THAT good.
Even If It Kills Me comes forward with a bit more pensiveness and odd bits of jangled percussion that is a cross between Lycia, Dead Can Dance and Bauhaus. In spite of the tonal etherealism at the opening, this track picks up quite a bit of rock percussion utilizing the bass and cello for much of this urgent energy. Overall, it is a bit of goth rock blended with a bit of trip hop, and a total pleasure to hear. Fading Away opens with just the deep notes being malevolently strung. Eerie female vocals come from the abyss and then Cohen once again leads off with the song. I would dare anyone to listen to this track and deny that this isn't Brendan Perry wrapping himself into what becomes a goth rock power ballad.
Incus is based out of Boston, Massachusetts and is known among their fans as "darkworld" or "tribal goth;" relatively new hybrids from the Goth underground. Comparisons can be hit or miss at times, however, in the case of Jason Cohen's vocals. It was rather enchanting to hear someone who sounded like a favored familiar vocalist. This isn't to say that he sounds entirely like Perry, but just enough to make folks think they have heard this voice before. Nevertheless, his vocals simply manage to tweak the passion and elegance from the lyrics. As far as the other band members, their tight orchestrations simply emblazon "hit" across these three tracks that one is simply left begging for more music.
The beauty, grandeur and majesty of this work is simply a foreshadowing of what is yet to come when the full album is released. It has been a long time since this reviewer was anxious to purchase a CD so expediently. Based on what was sampled on this 3-track demo, the high probability remains that as soon as this CD is out from the pressing plant my hands will be on a copy with lightening speed! This is definitely a band that you will want when the Fall weather emerges! Do seek it out, as you won't be disappointed.