With the release of The Narrow State, Rumour Cube continue their peculiar and successful blend of sweeping arrangements and aggressive deployments.
’The University Is A Factory’, a song in four movements, kicks off the six-track experience. Lead by Hannah Morgan’s violin and Terry Murphy’s viola, it blends that acoustic string-wrenching with electronic counterparts, in a broad aural landscape; you wonder whether they have Philip Glass in mind, and particularly his LP Glassworks. While the long held notes of this opening gambit hint, practically form the beginning, at the slow drum and bass combination which joins it in order to break the mood, it’s the sudden inclusion, in the song’s third stage, of a syncopated beat and crashing, distorted guitars – now you get a little of the feeling of the early EPs from Battles – that seems so beautifully out of place. While the track is instrumental these four movements, thought of in terms of the song’s title, seem to take on distinct and particular senses that unify around that violin and viola combination.
The Narrow State does out of place really well. ‘The Gove Curve’ passes by in the manner of ‘The University Is A Factory’, the string sliding through notes like an animal cry while guitarists Simon and Adam Shark shred for their lives. With the spoken word rant that closes the track, spat out like there wasn’t enough time to breathe properly, the song goes into meltdown, as a lot of The Narrow State does.
You get the same disjointedness with ‘At Sea’, the centre of the album. Its picked guitar arrangement, the slow-changing violin, is as poignant as other parts of the album but the underpinning bass line hits sinister notes. The groovier ‘Rain on Titan’, shuffling through bars, is more light-hearted but gives in to the compulsion for dissonance nonetheless, darker sounds bubbling up among the pretty tones. With ‘Triptych’, as the name implies, all these things are compacted and sprayed out at the same time.
It all combines as an album of narrative. Though (effectively) instrumental, The Narrow State has cinematic qualities, and it’s easy to imagine a set of visuals that could accompany things. There’s even the sense that the slow and wistful sounding ‘Tempus Fugit’, which closes the album, could accompany a film’s end credits; and track names like that one, and like ‘The University Is a Factory’ hint at ideas and themes in themselves.
It’s an important aspect of their sound, and will probably define them in future. The Narrow State, which grew out of the band’s 2010 EP We Have Sound Houses Also and which shares three of its tracks, is an accomplished debut effort from a potentially brilliant band.