London’s Morag Tong have been around for 18 months or so now but this is their first release proper and with the Through Clouded Time EP it is clear that it was well worth the time in production to make sure they got it right. From the cover art work, to the production to the craft of the songs this is a great debut release. Morag Tong describe themselves as a stoner doom / band and that is a fair description but there are some added dimensions to this EP that really made me sit up and listen and it is this combination of hard work and these quirky differences going to make Morag Tong stand out from their peers.
Opening track “Monolithian”, is deceptively very traditional doom. It’s paced well and has the requisite emphasis on a toll like rhythm and sound. There is some nice feedback going on and the overall sound is good. Yet what takes this from a pretty steady doom track to something much more exciting is the vocals. I loved the vocals when they kick in on this track (they only appear in the second half). It was not what I was expecting, in a very good way. It is the anguish in the voice, the way they are layered below the music. Vocalist (and drummer) Adam Asquith, sounds as though either he is very angry or in deep turmoil but the rawness of the emotion against that doom backdrop works amazingly well and turns it into a top song for me
“Godhead” continues in the same doom-laden way as its predecessor but the vocals are more stoner here and kick in very early. There is a hypnotic vibe to the track though and this is where stoner meets doom. It is this repetitive rhythm and vocal structure doubled with the freeform guitar over the top that eventually brow beats you into the groove of the song.
One of the main reason this EP for me works so well though, and I think a reason to watch out for Morag Tong in the future, is that they have a lot more than just straight forward stoner rock to offer. The final two tracks on the EP take on a different tack and show another side to Morag Tong and is definitely going to be interesting to see how they develop this sound in the future. Title track “Through Clouded Time” is stark in comparison to the opening two tracks. The sound is stripped back to the basics. A single drum slowly taps whilst one or two notes are plucked. The emptiness is striking. Such simplicity to create such a great sound. The vocals again work very well, this time more spoken and a lot clearer. When the band all does join in the same drum and rhythm still plays on the background but the intensity increases, the vocals again become more anguished the loudness of the band increases to meet it.
Final track “The Eyes of Men” starts in a squall of feedback before a pretty funky guitar riff is introduced. Again the vibe is heavy stoner doom and the lyrics and vocals grunge in their delivery. This song probably delivers the guitar solo of the album, backed by a little Hawkwind style oscillator. This turns into a bit of a jam at the end of the ep and finished off Though Clouded Time in style.
Through Clouded Time is simply a great introduction to a band. This may be their debut EP but it sounds like a band that have already been able to find their own sound. I love the fact that this EP is so full of passion. It is this passion both vocally and from the band that really shines through and makes it an addicting little player. This is band I will be following with interest because when the time is right and they are given free range to express themselves on a long player I think it is going to be really worth looking out for.
Through Clouded Time is out now.