Album (and comic!) review: Wallowing – Planet Loss

Here’s a (graphic) novel one. Brighton-based sludgy doom act Wallowing have revisited their debut album Planet Loss and drafted in artist Luke Oram to turn it into a more multimedia experience. Packaged with the album is a 36-page glossy graphic novella, detailing the story of a dystopian revolution. This goes along with the album’s single 32-minute track (broken into 6 “movements”), and the lyrics are used as the background for the story – this being their first time released in full.

Planet Loss the album is devastatingly slow and heavy. The term “blackened sludge” could have been coined for the depressive noisefest present through its duration. Hell, three minutes in and I’m picturing rows of chained workers plodding slowly under the sun, doing backbreaking menial tasks. A quick look at the comic shows countless minions leaving their homes and plodding to their jobs, so that ties in well. Maybe they could take a break from the drudgery and make use of a casino welcome bonus!

I was sent a sampler of the novella which is part-completed and shows Oram’s early uncoloured sketches as well as some of the finished pages. His work will seem familiar to fans of 2000AD because of its style though I don’t believe he’s ever actually featured (at least as a strip artist) in the Galaxy’s Greatest itself. My first impressions were that it’s similar in look and feel to the “Brass Sun” series, the art for which was done by Ian Culbard. The colouring and tones are similar, though Oram seems to have included more little details. What’s for sure is that his strip work is every bit as good as his album sleeves and posters, though he uses a different style for each.

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I’d not class Planet Loss as an enjoyable listen… but that’s because it’s not meant to be. It’s harsh, noisy, discordant in places and massively industrial – and perfect at what it aims for. With this kind of music, the meaning behind it can often get lost if you don’t have an idea of the story being told and the harsh lyrics are lost in (or part of) the music. The presence of the comic really adds another dimension to the album, letting the listener appreciate that bit more the effort that went into the creation of the music and its overall vision.

The album itself is only £4 on Bandcamp, but I would definitely recommend paying a bit extra and getting this new version. Support both the audio and visual artists involved, and really immerse yourself in this project from two directions. You can order it now from the Planet Loss website.

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