For many, the sad demise of Dutch band The Devil’s Blood in 2013 after six years was an unanticipated shock. For Selim Lemouchi it proved to be an opportunity to take his music in another direction, and so Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies was born. The first release by this new project, “Mens Animus Corpus”, was thought to be an eclectic collection of material, at times described as stoner rock encapsulated in a psychedelic drama. The drama is no less evident on this latest release “Earth Air Spirit Fire Water” which has an almost theatrical feel to it throughout. With only five tracks, three of which are over ten minutes, there is time to push the boundaries of straight ahead rock into a more experimental arena.
“Chiaroscuro”, the opening piece, for example, begins with a lengthy narrative sample, which develops into an unsettling journey through grandiose chord progressions and percussion, with a chorus of demented sorceresses layered over the top to take the listener further and further down. One could almost think of this as music for an elaborate stage play dealing with the inner turmoil of mankind. The repetition, the entwining vocal lines and the over whelming production seem to envelop the music and draw the innocent in. The authority gently descends into the next piece “Next Stop, Universe B” which takes off into a more easily recognisable arrangement of bass, guitar and drums bounding onward and allowing the listener respite from the menace suggested at by its predecessor. Almost its natural successor on this journey is “The Ghost of Valentine” which drifts through the atmosphere in much the same way that some of Julian Cope’s more extended ambient pieces do. Reminiscent of early Tangerine Dream, with no palpable melody or rhythm to provide familiarity, the listener glides through his or her own subconscious.
“The Deep, Dark Waters” lures the traveller into a false sense of security after the mind manipulation of “The Ghost of Valentine”. Again we have guitar, bass and drum passages, which, on the surface appear to offer hope and familiarity, but reading between the lines the music takes on an ominous undertone. After a moment to regain the senses, the intensity raises itself again allowing the guitar to ascend and screech for all it is worth. The journey ends with “Molasses” which in many ways can be seen as a summing up of the four previous tracks. There is relentless guitar riffing underpinning swathes of intergalactic keyboard, cut through with the wraithlike vocal lines of Lemouchi’s sister Farida.
It may seem a cliché to describe the album as a journey, but played from start to finish (something that many feel is sadly lacking with the “shuffle” generation) it is hard not to see the progression of music here as a quest. There are a variety of textures throughout “Earth Air Spirit Water Fire” which suggest characters in a legend that it would be worthwhile listening to over and over again. As suggested on the bands Facebook page, the music is self indulgent, romantic, callous and “…constantly in a state of creative experimentation”. These terms describe a musical vision, which embraces the storyteller’s art and gives it a musical voice.