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Boomkat Product Review:
It's been a full 18 years since punk mavens and Shackleton favourites Savage Republic offered up a full-length recording of new material, but here it is: 1938, the main course to the hors d'oeuvre that was the Siam EP from earlier on in the year. Like Einsturzende Neubauten, Savage Republic became known for their desolate scrap metal percussion and confrontational performance strategies, and thankfully there's plenty of evidence for those sorts of dark energies on this album. Even devoid of high tempos or conventional instrumentation, the passive-aggressive empty factory soundscapes of 'Breslau' conjure up an ominous din. There's still a great deal of melodic presence running through 1938 however, with tracks like 'Anemone' sounding like a kind of caustic '80s take on surf rock, and the bleak feedback tones of 'Monsoon' offering a darker take on the band's sound. The album's centrepiece, the seventeen-minute 'Caravan' throws some ghostly violin into the mix, which in the presence of the pounding oil drum percussion comes across as a kind of industrial gypsy lament. Coming straight after, the building instrumental 'Song For Rikki' seems almost too commercial, like a lost U2 song hammered out in some abandoned boiler room. Alternately tuneful, abrasive, folksy and sinister, 1938 paints a picture of a multifaceted band who still clearly have a lot to say for themselves after all these years.