Ah, the old split EP. A chance for two bands to take it further than being ‘just friends’. To take it into the ‘commitment zone’. It’s a statement of intent, the split EP, a statement that both bands are ready to lay down on record alongside the other and be, if not exactly compared, then measured up against themselves.
Lucky then, that there is rarely such a great match for the endeavour as these two. Caretaker is a proggy post-hardcore band from Winchester. Undersmile is a doom/sludge band from Oxford. Both are different enough that they feel represented, but not so different that the sounds clash. Both play heavy-ass music which it would be a crime not to listen too loud.
Caretaker are the older of the two, and have perhaps a more mature sound, a very restrained post rock style given to songs that sound like they should be rollicking along at a Mastodonish pace. Walk Like Jehu perhaps. And by god that is a fantastic scream. There’s no standout riffs, but the focus is all on the harmony and dischord, and it does that very well.
The double female-fronted Undersmile feel like slowly circling Buzz Osborne’s plughole after a night out. Grimy as anything, but with an aura of mystery in the gulped/moaned vocals that just makes you want to stick your head in a bit further. Granted, it’ll probably get chopped off, but what’s curiosity without a cat?
Perhaps the best part of this ep is the seamlessness. It’s rare to find even a single band who can record a project and make it play smoothly, yet here you have two bands chucked together, and they still seem to be playing in sync. Marriage material. It was a touch too slow after a while, but that’s just me. Good work.
Released on 5th September 2011 by Blindsight Records