Manchester-based musical project Pijn are a recent addition to the international progressive/post-metal scene but with their debut EP Floodlit they have already presented us with a world of mature songwriting and great potential. The record consists of four tracks written by the band’s two main songwriters, Joe Clayton and Nick Watmough, and augmented by a legion of collaborators from all over the United Kingdom. The result is a 20-minute long journey through lively ambiences and impressive moments of catharsis.
RELEASE DATE: 27 January 2017 LABEL: Holy Roar Records
Early on from the release of the first single Dumbstruck & Floodlit it was apparent that Pijn were wearing their influences on their sleeves. Abrasive riffs met with chaos-driven build-ups in what appeared to be a lovechild between Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Russian Circles. With the full record available, it becomes apparent that Pijn are as adept in elegance as they are in violence, lining their raw outbursts with elegant piano-driven passages. Many different instruments enhance the music, such as an incredibly stylish saxophone, courtesy of James Mainwaring (Roller Trio, Django Django), as well as a moody violin by Claire Northey. On top of these two, another eleven guest-musicians give Floodlit a thickly layered sound, most prominently during album opener Dumbstruck & Floodlit as well as album closer Lacquer.
On the middle two songs the band seems to tone it down a little. Third track Cassandra is a bit of the odd track out, consisting of a solitary guitar doodling around as if it is the beginning of a live show and the bass player is still tuning. It serves well enough as an introduction to Lacquer—the transition between the two being pleasantly smooth—but it pales in comparison with (similarly) brief instrumental preceding it called Hazel. This track is a wonderful sound composition that serves as an essential pivot between the abrasive heaviness of Dumbstruck & Floodlit and Lacquer. The succession of short instrumentals gives the EP an uneasy flow, but of course, the running order is hard to manage when you’re releasing an EP with only so many songs.
The production lags behind on this debut, but it’s nothing big or blatantly excruciating. Sometimes the recording lacks just a tiny bit of depth, or the guitars are just a bit shrill, yet it is these small imperfections that keep Floodlit from reaching the full potential of its material.
And this potential is real with Pijn as Floodlit is a compelling journey with many ups and downs. The inspiration of post-rock greats is tangible despite the multitude of collaborators, and as a collage of influences Floodlit holds its own. It is an interesting documentation of Gesamtkunst which has its great moments pointing towards a brilliant future. If the group manages to bundle its many collaborators and influences even more convincingly, Pijn will be a band to watch for the next few years.