Heilo En Varsovia “S/T” (Psychic Mule)

I’ve been holding out on reviewing this cassette from Madrid’s Heilo En Varsovia for a while now. To be honest, I was initially a bit turned off by all of the post-punk references I heard within this release. Hell, the band’s name alone translates to “Ice in Warsaw”, so right out of the gates you have to believe that this trio is trying to channel some serious Joy Division vibes. But after giving this tape multiple spins and a fair shake, I’ve come to hear a group that is on to something far more dark, complex, and epic than the vast majority of those derivative nth generation post-punk groups from circa-2002. On this U.S. debut release, Heilo En Varsovia arrive at an interesting cross-section of sounds that primarily balances dreamy, minimal wave synth pop with a darkened, post punk urgency. Gurgling vocals appear here-and-there, but are often buried in the mix, serving more to create added texture than to necessarily communicate anything directly. That being said, I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, which I assume is what language they’re singing in, so I could be completely off the mark. Scattered amongst this are a few extended, dirge-like instrumental passages that have a crushing weight to them. Taken as a whole, this self-titled release comes off as a murky, psychedelicized-take on post-punk, probably closer to something like Leaves Turn Inside You-era Unwound than anything from Joy Division, really. This tape release is in an edition of 100, each packaged in a hand-numbered cloth drawstring bag.

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