As most people have known for the past six months, Basement is back. The five piece from Ipswich, England announced their reunion back in late January and followed up with an announcement of a tour in April. But the news did not stop there – they also secretly recorded a new EP and had it set for a release date in July. Needless to say, they were relatively busy in their time off and kept quiet about their future endeavors. I will not speak for anyone else, but I know that I had been patiently waiting for Further Sky, not really knowing what to expect. Now that I had the chance to listen to the three-track EP, I feel refreshed and almost satisfied with the small taste that was given.
Past releases like Colourmeinkindness and I Wish I Could Stay Here are synonymous with the fall or winter months, where the chords are much more harsh and brash – the lyrical content full of reflection and longing for the cold to break. It is fitting that Further Sky be released during the summer months due to the fact that it is sonically brighter and warmer than past releases. The band also stated that the new material has “subtle psychedelic tendencies” of bands like Swervedriver and Failure, which holds true during the EP’s second track titled “Jet”.
When listeners hit play, they are immediately greeted with “Summer’s Colour”, an ethereal, guitar-driven take on a summer romance. Andrew Paul swoons over a “princess in a white dress / queen in a dream” while rhythm and lead guitars flow together, creating a pleasant backdrop of a bright atmosphere. The second track ‘Jet’ carries the same genial tone, but definitely differs from the first track with its moments of slowed down instrumentals reverberating off of Andrew’s drawn out vocals. It’s in these moments that those “psychedelic tendencies” the band spoke of bleed through, and it floats. These two songs effortlessly feel lighter and much more relaxed, something everyone wishes to feel with the onset of warmer weather.
For a final track, Basement decided to cover early 90s glam rock/alternative band Suede’s “Animal Nitrate”. I think it is admirable that Basement went back to their roots, not just by covering the song of a fellow UK band, but by recording in North London’s Livingston Studios (The Clash, Bjork). To hear some influence from that British rock element in this new release is almost humbling. Anyhow, I am a sucker for covers, and this is probably going on my top 10 favorite covers list. If someone were to pick up this EP, and had never heard of Suede, they would probably assume that “Animal Nitrate” was an original song by Basement. Not only was it executed really well in respect to Suede, but Basement made it blend in wonderfully with two of their own original songs. That’s pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.
Further Sky feels and sounds rich. The instrumentals stray from all of the bands’ previous work in all of the right ways. There are so many more interesting textures and complex variations in melody. I think that’s what Basement fans need to hear. It’s always inspiriting to hear something new from a band that has been quietly working, especially when it’s just so different from anything we’ve heard from them before.
People usually say that the sky is the limit. I think Basement sat down and said “that’s dumb” and recorded an EP they were really proud of, going further than the sky in a lot of different respects (I think I’m funny). Through this experimentation, I am interested in seeing what the band does next, in extended form especially.
Man, they have still got it.