18 Oct 2016

Pardans / Heaven Treason Women (album review)

Arriving fully formed on their debut album Heaven Treason Women, Copenhagen-based no-wave band Pardans are a more than intriguing proposition for any fans of The Birthday Party or Sonic Youth. An average age of just 20, the sextet combine the narcotic, dark sound of Nick Cave's old band with the blaring free jazz sax of Ornette Coleman - their debut record is a splurge of darkness well beyond the band's age, that just commands the ears of the listener, begging you to give it the utmost attention. 

With any Danish band - same applies to Lower - it's hard to escape comparisons to ATP favourites Iceage, probably the country's most successful musical export of the past ten years. And true - there's a bit of that in their sound, and the singer Gustav Berntsen's a soundalike for Elias Bender R√łnnenfelt - but through their raucous abandonment of all things pop structure, Pardans are something entirely of their own.

What makes their sound more distinctive than the ten-a-penny post-punk bands that plaster the pages of Drowned In Sound (or similar) - Savages and in fact Iceage being the picks of the bunch - is the inclusion of the marauding sax parts of Daniel Honore. It's not a warm, seductive saxophone like on Savages' Marshall Dear or Thomas Cohen's Honeymoon, it's a cold, animalistic instrument. It growls, and splutters, adding so much discordance that you might as well be in a black hole. Even on Over The Alps, Into Milan, where it's used at its most melodic, the saxophone still sounds claustrophobic, dark, and predatorial. 

A brilliant marriage of the avant-garde with post-punk, there are so many moments of brilliance on this 27 minute debut album. The marriage of guitar, bass, drums, sax and viola is so aurally pleasurable here, that it's hard to reach the end of the record without playing it again. As Her, The Money, The Heels closes the LP, in its cinematic furore, strings, horns and noise blaring, you can't help be left gobsmacked by the brilliance of this sextet. It's - at times - a hard listen, but it's also gripping, magnetic, and if you're as inclined towards the heroin soaked post-punk bands of the eighties as I am, this will 100% be the album for you. 


Words: Cal Cashin