ALBUM REVIEW: “Self-Titled” by The Unsemble


The self-titled debut album from The Unsemble is a beautiful masterpiece full of heavy atmospheres and intricate guitar passages with an overall sound that communicates itself in an incredibly unique manner. For those who aren’t aware, The Unsemble is an instrumental trio that is made up of members from The Jesus Lizard, Tomahawk, Einstürzende Neubaten and the Silver Jews. The main ringleader is legendary guitarist Duane Denison whose spooky guitar playing dominates each track of The Unsemble’s debut.

This album feels like the logical sequel to the haunting sounds found on Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack. In the same way that Badalamenti was able to create strange landscapes with his spaciously smooth jazz sounds so do The Unsemble with their percussion heavy largely improvised songs. Each piece of music presented by The Unsemble is drenched with a cinematic ache that can force your imagination to escape to a state of pure terror or a numb kind of blissed relaxation. The whole experience is beautifully unsettling and as the album unfolds you are drawn deeper and deeper into the horror. It is perfect late night music for the insomniac haunted by the perils of paranoia but also infatuated with the beauty of dazed escapism.

With their debut album The Unsemble have avoided the cliché’s of instrumental music and have released a focused movement of music that will outlive all that is fashionable and modern. This is a timeless set of songs, the kind of treasured record that you’re happy to keep as your own special little secret. This is the kind of record you hope to find buried deep in a record store. There is risk and there is danger to this music but there is also a sophistication that gives the overall mood such a lasting effect. The music of The Unsemble will resonate with you not because it has an agenda but because it was created to be consumed as a piece of art. This is a very special and extremely powerful album that has haunted me ever since it came out. I have attempted to put into words for so long just how important this record is and although I can lean on all the typical metaphors I think the simplest way to describe it is the age old explanation of “The Unsemble’s self-titled album is achingly beautiful” because it honestly communicates how I feel.

You may have to look harder to find a band like The Unsemble under all the noise and hype given to all of the “style over substance” music being written about but that is a good thing I reckon because when you lose hope in music a band like The Unsemble have the power to restore it and make you fall in love with the power of sound all over again.

By: Dan Newton



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