Elizabeth Colour Wheel play beautifully bizarre music on their debut album Nocebo, out March 15 on The Flenser. Trying to categorize the songs according to some standard genre descriptors feels like a legitimately laughable endeavor. Nocebo’s seven tracks feel at times like multiple, differently styled bands playing at once in some kind of strange, “people’s orchestra” whose sonic creation has truly never been heard before but feels incredibly needed the moment it coalesces into a single work. Even the vocal work defies easy categorization, flowing between straightforward singing and a kind of visceral, post-punk gut punch, and even an occasional scream, with ease.
Trying to pin down even almost everything that makes an appearance on Nocebo is a formidable task. The band play everything from menacing, chaotic black metal to contemplative shoegaze, but these elements don’t come together in the perhaps most familiar sense where one is simply an accent of the other, like with “blackgaze.”
Instead, each side of the spectrum gets a focused component of the record, where just as easily as they spend minutes thrashing the listener, Elizabeth Colour Wheel spend minutes suspending the listener in a haze of foggy noise with an immersive strangeness tying it all together. The result feels like a kind of suspension between worlds—however science fiction-esque you’d like to take that—where, while utilizing styles that you think are familiar, the band expose textures and aspects of textures that you just never noticed before. You’re in a place where it feels like you didn’t know what was right under your nose the whole time.
Somehow, the band manage to gradually show more intensity in both directions as their debut progresses, and it works beautifully. As somewhat of a unifying force to their work, Nocebo feels like it takes our most visceral inclinations and lifts them up—still writhing—towards the sun.
The album feels like an incredibly personal endeavor, which really ends up as one of the only available options when one gets this far away from musical standards. Elizabeth Colour Wheel’s work feels exciting on both an emotional and a technical, musical level, making Nocebo an impressive and ultimately, inescapably, an enthralling work all around.