“Death holds up an all-seeing mirror, ‘the mirror of past actions’, to our eyes, in which the consequences of all our negative and positive actions are clearly seen, and there is a weighing of our past actions in the light of their consequences, the balance of which will determine the kind of existence or mental state we are being driven to enter.” ―
Immurement (from Latin im- “in” and murus “wall”; literally “walling in”): a form of imprisonment, usually until death, in which a person is sealed within an enclosed space with no exits. The UK’s Vukovar tugs at the heartstrings with their brutally romantic encomium to a dearly departed soul in the form of their stunning new LP release, The Great Immurement. The tracks on this album are fascinating sonic sculptures of atmosphere, lamentation, and collective spiritual awakening.
The theme of entombment weaves itself in this collection of songs. “Do not trust us; we are fragile stars,” declares the band. Fragile stars, perhaps, certainly powerful mediums.
Number two in the band’s Eternity Ends Here triumvirate, The Great Immurement is an album tribute to their friend and collaborator, the Ceramic Hobs’ Simon Morris, whose tragic 2019 suicide left an indelible chasm in their lives and trajectory as a band. Death as a concept album works for Vukovar: the static, the field recordings, the heavy vox reverb, the haunting funereal chants, the exquisite anguish: they are hymns to the dead as much as they are EVP seances clawing their way around the other side of the veil. The Great Immurement may as well be called Ouija Board: The Musical. It is quite possible actual ghosts themselves have cameos on this extraordinary record, particularly on The Immortal Hour. It is unsettling, primal, and raw, but god, what a beautiful funeral pyre.
There really is no true comparison to Vukovar’s sound. There are elements of Current 93’s poetic romance; their austere Northern sensibilities, stained with tragedy, echo Ian Curtis; there are more impassioned, sung pieces that snag whiffy essences of Echo and the Bunnymen, filtering through the hazy, atmospheric filter of the Bardo. Thematically, however, this album is a closer cousin to the Bahamian Obeah-psychedelic outfit, Exuma, with its unconventional wall of indiscernible sound, mystical elements and transpicuous ties to the spirit world.
Vukovar formed in “a crumbling placefiller of a town” in 2014, describing themselves as “effete artists pretending to be northern hardcases pretending to be uniform fetishists in iconoclast drag.”
After getting through this absorbing, haunting labyrinth of sound, brush away the tears and brace yourselves for Act III from Vukovar. In the meantime, listen to When Rome Falls:
Stream the album here:
Order the vinyl through Other Voices records here.