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Se Delan: Beyond The Realms Of Crippled Black Phoenix

Crippled Black Phoenix leader Justin Greaves has created an ambient, cinematic new project with his partner Belinda Kordic. Se Delan talk legal disputes, spirituality and creativity.

ustin Greaves doesn’t follow trends. A perennial square peg in a round hole, he’s meticulously avoided easy categorisation for years, traversing the boundaries of prog, post-rock and experimental rock as the leader of Crippled Black Phoenix. Now with Se Delan, the duo he formed with Swedish singer Belinda Kordic (who is also his girlfriend), his musical parameters remain similarly unpredictable.

“Ten years ago it was, ‘Who’s the heaviest?’ Before that it was maybe, ‘Who’s the fastest?’ Now it’s: ‘Who’s the darkest and spookiest?’” he says via Skype, chuckling good-naturedly through a bushy, jet-black beard. “Lots of new bands are doing that. But we don’t want to just keep going down those roads; easy ones to go down.”

Following their 2014 debut The Fall, Drifter is the second Se Delan album. While the former was recorded in a frenetic four days, the latter has come to life over a longer stretch of time, allowing space for Greaves and Kordic to revisit sections and generally ‘live’ with the whole record for longer. Recording took place down the road from their North Lincolnshire home (at Tripdown Studios, with Ritchie Chappell), and everything was assembled on their own terms. No bandmates to rely on. No massive studio overheads.

The result is an expansive, enigmatic work of alternative rock, ambient yet haunting, drawing at least as much from the cinematic likes of John Carpenter and Ennio Morricone as from other bands. And, of course, it’s resolutely difficult to pigeonhole – just as they like it.

“I always avoid that, to be honest,” Greaves says. “If somebody wants to stick us in with someone, feel free. But it’s really not for me to say. I’d say Se Delan is kind of more accessible than my other stuff, and it’s probably more defined. But that’s a good thing, because CBP is not really defined by any one thing. Se Delan is more stylised; it has a little more definition.”

Where The Fall had a rockier edge, Drifter is an altogether more spacious, electric creation, with analogue electronics and splashes of 70s synths. It makes for an arty, atmospheric yet gothic take on alt rock. Or dark wave. Or whatever camp you place them in. And in terms of the tunes themselves – largely simpler and more succinct than the sprawling, unwieldy works of Crippled Black Phoenix – it’s the closest to ‘pop’ either of them is likely to come any time soon.

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