Death In June - The Snow Bunker Tapes [New European Recordings/Soleilmoon - 2013]“The Snow Bunker Tapes” sees DIJ offering up guitar/Totenpop versions of the tracks that made up the 2010 piano based album “Peaceful Snow”. So on the surface this may sound like a ‘hardcore fan’ only release, but in reality Douglas P has managed to make this worthwhile beyond a fan pandering release, as he brings out different, often starker, & at times surreal nuances within each of the albums thirteen songs.
The album follows the same running order as the original “Peaceful Snow” album, except for the addition of the last track “The Maverick Chamber”, which originally appeared on the 7 inch single of the title track. All thirteen tracks here are put across with mainly just acoustic/ electric guitar and Douglas P’s tuneful yet often sinisterly tinged distinctive vocals, which he sometimes layers up into bleak harmonies. Though there are also a few subtle, yet effective, minimal extra sonic details added into the songs mostly stripped back structure.
As I’ve already mentioned the songs here take on a much starker, chilling( making the albums title most relevant), and at times quite surreal/ unsettling edge compared with the tracks original release. Also songs that didn’t really grab me much the first time round seem more potent & rewarding here too, whilst also a few songs that stood out as some of my favourite moments on “Peaceful Snow” now seem a little less rewarding- I guess it’s all down to the way they're put across & the way the tracks are produced.
As for stand out moments, for me they’d come in the form of: “Fire Feast”, with it’s sinister easy listening ‘bab-bah’ harmony break down that’s backed by a weird & unsettling whistling element, the truly bleak strumming coldness of “The Scents of Genoicide”, which features later on creepy whispered backing harmonies and “Red Odins Day” with it’s unsettling & surreal higher pitched ‘ la la' harmonies that are mixed together with these strange wonky & darting musical box sounding keyboard elements. But, pretty much all of the tracks here are rewarding, with each having it’s own slightly different take on what eventually appeared on the “Peaceful Snow” album versions.
So on the whole “The Snow Bunker Tapes” is successful, as it manages to give most of these tracks a new stark, ominous & sometimes unsettling air. Sure this isn’t truly a ‘new’ DIJ album, but for me there’s enough here to warrant picking this up.Roger Batty