Membranes unleash another masterpiece with What Nature Gives ... Nature Takes Away

Musician and writer John Robb’s re-energised band released their most critically-acclaimed album back in 2015 in the shape of Dark Matter/Dark Energy, all about the life and death of the universe.

By Gary Welford
Friday, 07 June, 2019, 10:30
Membranes What Nature Gives ... Nature Takes Away (Cherry Red Records)

Remarkably, it was their first record in 26 years. Formed in Blackpool in 1977, they enjoyed some indie chart success in their original incarnation, before splitting in 1990.

They reunited in 2010 when one of their old support bands, My Bloody Valentine, asked them to reform for a festival.

Post-punk band Membranes, with John Robb, right.

They’ve never looked back, and are now producing the best music of their career.

This is their ninth album, and it’s a double which uses the band’s own 20-piece choir to juxtapose their dark drone and melancholic power across 16 songs about the beauty and violence of nature, split into four distinctive seasons.

It features guest appearances from the likes of BBC nature presenter Chris Packham, '70s punk icon Jordan, and Theatre Of Hate/Spear Of Destiny frontman Kirk Brandon.

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Don’t let the special guests colour your judgement though; bassman Robb, guitarists Peter Byrchemore and Nick Brown and drummer Rob Haynes have produced another masterpiece.

Their brooding post-punk sound is present from the off and you’ll either get it straight away, or turn it off after not even making it through the entire 72 minutes.

It’s an album which is worth spending time with, however; one listen had me hooked, as it veers from dub to dirty disco, and bass-driven apocalyptic visions to dark opera.

Picking a standout track is difficult, as you’ll pick out something different with every listen, but the barmy A Murder Of Crows and magnificent Deep In The Forest Where The Memories Linger are right up there.

And as far as song titles go A Murmuration Of Starlings On Blackpool Pier (which features a poem read by folk singer Shirley Collins) takes some beating.

I can’t wait to hear these songs performed live. 8/10.