A Journey Across The Universe With The Membranes
I’m not sure why but I seem strangely familiar with John Robb. He’s one of those characters that’s always been there. I’ve never met him, however, I feel like I know him. Some years ago I was walking passed the Urbis in Manchester, which plays host every weekend on the grassed area opposite, to the “yoof” of today. They all hang out with their ultra skinny’s and Ramones branded t-shirts causing mild mischief. Opposite, at a table outside the Urbis café sit an unnoticed Robb and Pete Shelley, chatting away and enjoying a nice cuppa. If only they knew.
Robb formed the post punk Membranes in 1977 and over the next 11 years they released six studio albums. The band split in 1990 only to reform in 2009 for the My Bloody Valentine curated All Tomorrows Parties festival. They went on to release the fantastically named single “If You Enter the Arena, You Got To Be Prepared To Deal With The Lions”. This track appears on the 2015 album release ‘Dark Matter/Dark Energy’.
The double album is built around the Universe Explained gig they performed last year which involved Higgs Boson scientists explaining the universe, before Membranes played a set to finish what was a sell-out show.
And what an album it is. The opening track “The Universe Explodes into A Billion Photons of Pure White Light” does what it says on the tin. There’s enough energy in this song to propel the listener into another dimension.
“Do the Supernova” was a Record Store Day release which tips its hat at the old Membranes we know and love, however it’s not out of place in 2015 and serves as a reminder of the diverse styles of the group.
The track “Dark Matter” is a masterpiece that gathers momentum and emotion through its 5 plus minutes. I was so impressed, it prompted me to message John and congratulate him. “Thanks Loz …we are very proud of it!!” came the reply.
During the spoken word intro of “The Multiverse Suite” the listener hears “There’s something there, but we don’t know what is”. That is what is so extraordinary about this album. As you journey though the tracks you are taken through a musical ride that is like no other. Raw in places, perfectly produced in others. It’s full of surprises that make this an album that will be played over and over again.
John you should be proud, it’s an excellent album!
Dark Matter/Dark Energy is out on the 3rd July in various formats.
To find out more about The Membranes, click here.
To visit The Membranes' Facebook page, click here.
Words by Lawrence Taylor