8 Jun 2017
Halasan Bazar - Burns
Reviewed by Shaun C. Rogan
Ah! 'Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen!' As Danny Kaye memorably sang (or was it Donald O'Connor? No matter). Here is a really great piece of work from Danish psychotropic innerspace explorers Halasan Bazar who aim to turn us into true believers with their new release; the chiming, oddly affecting and very strangely beautiful record entitled 'Burns'.
Mining a seam of baroque - freak - pop-psychedelia not unlike that pursued by the likes of Jacco Gardner and Kurt Heasley in recent years (no bad thing), "Burns" has strength in depth. Every song is an unhinged and hook laden narco-fairground ride waiting to take the active listener through a hall of musical mirrors that disturb and confound in equal measure. Thank God for mental illness.
After a brief rippling intro, 'Honest People' kicks things off proper with an ecstatic chiming guitar fest and equally delirious and declamatory lead vocal that reminds me a little of Dean Wareham, in a good way of course. "Get Sick and Die" (apart from being a great title for a song) has an elegantly wasted vibe to it that gets your toe tapping instantly and like the rest of this record hooks you like a hungry catfish on a pole. There is so much going on in these relatively simple but sonically highly crafted arrangements that elevate matters into something eerily sophisticated and engaging. In tone, in depth, in staying the right side of self-indulgence (nothing here is over 4 and a half minutes long), Halasan Bazar crank out killer tune after killer tune. "Fools" is a trip to the drive-in with your favourite girl in your dads car on a beautiful July evening where you lean back and look at the stars just as the acid you took before you picked her up kicks in. And then you realise you're gonna have to drive home.
'Freak' is a sick serenade that sets my teeth on edge with its see-sawing strings and its glib drugged out insanity. "Burns My Mind" is a lovely alt-country prairie lament that never quite feels settled with a macabre sensibility to the impressionistic and dream like lyric. The off-kilter melancholy of "Junky" has a certain sunny-side up quality as if being presented at some psychedelic holiday camp talent competition on the Baltic coast to a captive audience of drooling freaks. Halasan Bazar are definitely messing with your mind and they know exactly what buttons to press.
Enigmatic closer, "Lucky You" penetrates the walls of your head with its reprise of ecclesiastically skewed organ washes that seem to emit a sick warm polluting odour that threatens to submerge you until the clutch is released and a gently stomping valedictory love song rises out of the fog. As a way of bringing proceedings to a close it seems entirely appropriate as it is both happy and twisted.
With 'Burns', Halasan Bazar present an irresistable cavalcade of memorable classically framed pop psych delights shot through with an anxiety that is somewhat unique and sets them apart from their peers. They are The Brian Wilson Massacre, they are Galaxie 600, they are Arcade Fire blazing on high grade acid and stripped of phony pretention, they are a glittering North Sea surf reflecting the light of the summer sun in endless pinpricks of luminosity but most of all they are themselves - a hazy, sweet, sour, ragged dream freak scene that I wandered into one evening. You need this record to help soundtrack your life in 2017, to help you make sense of the insanity that has swamped the world and threatens to drag us under. Feel the burn.
Available from visionary record stores on vinyl/cd around the planet and the bands record label through the widget below (where you can also here the whole thing)