Sometimes, the most disturbing aspects in art are the most human. Whilst extra-dimensional Lovecraftian creatures and blasphemous demons may have their own type of power and horror, they can be as nothing when compared with a well-placed spoken word sample. SWVMPS by rabitrup is proof of that were any ever needed. The music itself is powerful enough, mixing industrial, harsh noise, and even dubstep elements in to a challenging listen. But what really makes this three-track EP horrifying are the spoken word samples, which give the music extra context and power. If you’re feeling emotionally fragile or downcast, this is a record to avoid; but, if you want an experience of staring in to the void that is humanity, press ahead.
Opening track ‘Solomon’ is ominous enough. Gentle piano underpinned by ominous bass drones introduces the track, before stuttering rhythms, harsh noise movements, and massively distorted vocals come in, forming the musical building blocks of SWVMPS. The lyrics are never clear, but it’s obvious enough that this is music that means you ill, and is a perfect soundtrack for those times when only utter nihilism and devastation will do. Remarkably though, the subtlest hints of melody and those damaged rhythms make the record surprisingly addictive – not enjoyable, and far from approachable, but nor is it pushing you away completely. It’s an interesting duality, and makes SWVMPS far more notable than many other noise and death industrial influenced acts.
It’s with the opening to second track ‘Harmony’ that things get far more uncomfortable. A spoken word sample recounting childhood abuse, it is painfully devastating in its understatement; when the music kicks in, it is almost a relief, though a feeling of taint and defilement still lingers until the track is done. Closer ‘Lisa’ takes a slower approach, with more drawn-out drones and distorted melodies, stretched and twisted until they’re at breaking point. It’s almost cinematic (an over-used descriptor, but one that fits) in its movement and atmosphere, conjuring grand vistas of devastation and tragedies on an individual scale all in the same movement. That is hammered home by the closing sample of a 911 call that is so unsettling, I’ve been unable to listen to its full duration even though I’ve given SWVMPS itself many plays. It’s something of a relief that the samples of ‘Harmony’ and ‘Lisa’ are at the start and end of the respective tracks, meaning they can be skipped without missing out on the music itself; that they may be too uncomfortable for many listens is quite likely, even if the music has much to like about it.
It would be a shame if the lasting impression any listener has of SWVMPS is formed solely on those samples, though. There is much here to recommend, even if it is a record that is all-but impossible to enjoy. For those times when you want nothing but bleakness and hurt though, this will do nicely.
SWVMPS can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp.