Album Review: Dead Skeletons ‘Live in Berlin’

Dead_Skeletons_-_Live_Berlin_2048x2048Diving into the psychedelic swimming pool, Chloe Mayne spins the latest offering from the cult Icelandic trio:

Peeling back the plastic skin on a fresh copy of Dead Skeletons’ Live in Berlin feels like unwrapping something delicious for licking; bathed in the psychedelic paint sprawls of sonic mastermind and band leader Jón Sæmundur aka Nonni Dead, it leaps out from the pile, demanding relished consumption. It’s been awhile since I dived good and proper into a live record, and what better piece of shining disc to choose?

The concert took place at the close of 2013 under the shadowy wings of Kreuzberg’s famed SO36, rumoured to be one of Bowie’s shimmying ground back in his Berlin days. First track ‘Om Varja Sattva Hung’ rumbles in like a wild, looming steam train, pulling heavily in to a platform in the dead of night, ice steam rising in steady columns about the wheels. It’s a solid few minutes of swirling splendour, before the familiar beat kicks in with pressing urgency, goosebumps trickling tracks down my forearms as the momentum grows. Dead’s voice ebbs in, deep and , mantras repeating overhead and fuzz seeping in from below, thick and sinewy. Mmmm, this is the good stuff.

‘It’s good to be back,’ says Dead to a tightly-clustered crowd; the tension carries wonderfully, ladled soup of anticipation leaking between the tracks. ‘Om Mani Peme Hung’ orbits in and out with an engine hum, gathering pace as slung guitar howls layer thickly over themselves, stretching and warping into throbbing tapestry. ‘Buddha Christ’ slams in with incessant stomping, outstretched fingers and dug-in heels at high-speed. I live to die alone is the chant, but it sure ain’t sorrowful, brisk and matter-of-fact as the stones grow heavier over the top, becoming grumbling boulders.

‘When The Sun’ is laced with gorgeous, tumble-down guitars,a six-minute odyssey that provides perhaps the gentlest foray of the evening. This is the track that you put on repeat soaring down a highway in the back seat of a car late at night, lights rushing by and your chest slowly expanding, head leant against the window frame as your hair flings back wild and whip-like. ‘Dead Comet’ rollicks and rolls with smooth motions, a whirling buttery expanse.

The set finishes with none other than ‘Dead Mantra’, which forms the sort of cornerstone of the band itself. A thirteen-minute epic, this track is a force of its own. He who fears death cannot enjoy life is repeated endlessly in a spectrum of tongues, tying up this theme of death and decay that is dealt with in its many forms throughout the band’s work. The result is gritty and grimy but also earnest, uplifting as the set draws to a screeching close.

Fuzz Club are serving up an absolutely killer smorgasbord of records over the coming months and we’re super excited to gnaw on them as they wash ashore. The psychedelic ship steers ever onward into the dark and swirling sea, my friends!

The ‘Live in Berlin’ vinyl is now available to pre-order on the Fuzz Club website. Keep in the loop with Dead Skeletons via their Facebook page, and our interview with Nonni – which is coming soon!

Chloe Mayne


Words by Chloe Mayne.