Have a Nice Life is a two-piece outfit from Connecticut that includes a member of the hardcore band, In Pieces; although, this double CD collection has nothing in the way of sound that can compare to that outfit in any sense of the word. Instead, Have a Nice Life actually has a sound that pulls from a variety of influences like Joy Division, Swans, The Cure, etc. and is vaguely reminiscent of some "Brit pop; but even trying to describe the band's sound in those terms does not fully explain it. The band also attempts to take on some fairly intellectual discourse surrounding a medieval heretical Christian group, called the Antiocheans, by including a thick booklet regarding the controversy, mystery, and persecution of the group over the course of their existence. The concept and execution of Deathconsciousness: The Plow that Broke the Plains & The Future is largely impressive and ambitious, specially so considering that Have a Nice Life funded, produced, and recorded the whole project on their own over the course of six years.
The first CD of Deathconsciousness: The Plow that Broke the Plains & The Future is The Plow that Broke the Plains, and from the opening calm of "Introduction," with the opening keyboards and acoustic guitars, to the end of this half of the record, Have a Nice Life plot a very atmospheric course that has a great deal to listen for while it is playing. "Introduction" swells and intones a veritable soundtrack quality in its mood and presentation that, at times, would not be out of place on Vangelis's Blade Runner soundtrack. The electronic drumbeats and bass sound (which is real hollow sounding but hypnotic at the same time) of "Bloodhail" has an almost new wave feel to it, and I swear that any person with a soul will find themselves humming along as the band sings "Arrowheads, Arrowheads, Arrowheads, Arrowheads." "The Big Gloom" could not be more apropos at describing the emotional timbre of the song for which the vocals seem to add a great deal towards establishing that quality of the music. Besides the pretentious (and not pretentious in a bad way) title, "Who Would Leave Their Son Out in the Sun?" is probably one of the more depressing songs within recent memory. "Epilogue" contains a striking sound in which the music sounds almost like a bellowing call from the past as if the band is interpreting a Gregorian chant with guitars before crashing to the close of The Plow that Broke the Plains.
Deathconsciousness: The Future, the second of the two CDs included in this release, begins with more effects of atmosphere before moving to a weird, rather pop sounding "Waiting for Black Metal Records to Come in Mail;" and it also serves to set itself apart from other songs within the oeuvre of Have a Nice Life with its much quicker tempo and sometimes shouted (shouted not screamed) vocals. This CD seems to be more an about face from the measured atmospheric qualities found on its companion; this particular revelation becomes evident on "Holy Fucking Shit: 40,000", which seems incredibly schizophrenic with its acoustic guitar basis heard in the beginning and the ending and its heavy bludgeoning sound in the middle (but still being somewhat restrained with the unnervingly calm vocals). Even though I really like the strange bass sound of "Deep, Deep", the up-tempo song contains keyboard flourishes and vocals that are a bit unnerving to me, and the vocal arrangements of "I Don't Love" make that song an enjoyable experience. The real gem of Deathconsciousness: The Plow that Broke the Plains & the Future has to be "Earthmover," the final song for the whole collection; it combines the entire musical and songwriting elements that Have a Nice Life display into one tightly wrapped soaring moody piece that also adds new elements (like the shoegazing-esque part at roughly the midpoint of the track) not heard anywhere while still feeling and sounding at home.
The booklet that accompanies Deathconsciousness: The Plow that Broke the Plains & The Future is impressive in that it took either a great deal of research or a great deal of creativity (as well as a rudimentary Anthropological and historical understanding of medieval Christianity) to author an authentic sounding document that serves to show some of the inspiration behind the writing and recording of the double CD set. It not only houses this document, which is part historical text part poetry, but the booklet contains some interesting images of woodcuttings (a personal obsession of mine so it is nice to see here) and the lyrics to the music of Have a Nice Life. Regardless of the basis and the quality of execution (of which I enjoyed reading the booklet more than once), the inclusion of the pamphlet with the double CD is notable in it of itself; there are not many bands that would go to these lengths for a release, but Have a Nice Life does just this.
Have a Nice Life definitely make an impression on me with their release of Deathconsciousness: The Plow that Broke the Plains & The Future, and they get extra points in my book for doing this without the support of a record label. From the presentation to the volume (meaning the sheer amount) to the interesting quality of the music that spans two CDs, Have a Nice Life set a rather high bar for what new or little known bands are capable of producing on their own; and, for that accomplishment alone, they should be congratulated, while keeping in mind the sheer amount of ambition and chutzpah necessary to see the project through to its completion.
8.0 / 10
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