After relocating from New York to France, Charles Rowell (Crocodiles, Flowers of Evil, Issue) announces a new musical endeavour: Crush of Souls. The band’s debut EP, Bad Trip, was released on digital and cassette in late July via Third Coming Records.
The single Pain and Ecstasy is an industrial-flavoured instrumental treasure with vaguely disorienting yowls in a background overpowered by dark guitars…and then, out of nowhere, a cacophony of ghostly sax. It recalls a slightly disturbing dream state, fuzzy memories, and the final exit from the subconscious just before the alarm rings.
The rest of the album follows suit, making good use of spoken word samples and buzzing (particularly in Dog Bitten Cross), and sculpting a disconcerting atmosphere of madness and aural hallucination. There’s a healthy mix of good old-fashioned LES sleaze, some ZE Records-style no-wave, and, dare I say it…the mad ramblings of the agitated creeps you avoid in the subway.
Over the last few years, Rowell has been pushing and morphing the project towards its final state, but it wasn’t until he was living out of a Paris hotel, a short-stoned stumble away from La Station and Espace B, that Rowell found his inspiration for Crush of Souls. The city provided the background and the scene of friends who pushed his creativity even further.
There’s always been a thread of electronic, goth rock and DIY noise music running through all of Rowell’s projects, but Crush of Souls determinedly pushes this sonic aesthetic further with primal Wax Trax-style beats; challenging noise passages that rattle the ghost of Genesis P. Orridge.
A dreamlike – or nightmarish – electrical journey into the weird, not for the faint of heart.
“The star of the video is Tuna Mess,” explains Rowell, “a performer whom I had seen several times in Pigalle at a bar called Sister Midnight. Her performances always left me in a trance.”
“The video was shot during the lockdown. We decided it should convey the loneliness of it all; Paris was very eerie. There’s definitely a Man Who Fell To Earth vibe in the opening shots.”
Watch the video for “Pain & Ecstasy” below:
Crush of Souls’ debut EP Bad Trip is out now via Third Coming Records.