King Krule, real name Archy Marshall, doesn’t burst back onto the scene. Rather, he sails in like a battle-worn Ulysses, guitar strings mouldy from moonlighting as an oar, his vessel sinking under the weight of the “heavy traffic in my brain”.
Space Heavy, his fourth album under the King Krule moniker, is another contemporary slice of British psychological horror. Monotonous, muted, and claustrophobic, the 15 tracks here unfurl like a scroll to map the transit of dream to paranoia to memory, scribbled as always in Marshall’s dock-yard existentialism where death is but a “vacuum” that brings us together.
The album’s deepest point ‘Hamburgerphobia’ is a surprisingly intricate polemic; paralleling the emptiness of commodity with the formlessness of love. Possessing a Dostoevskian morality, its narrator slips into nihilism while eating a hamburger under the murderous gaze of a flock of birds. Fingers burger-grease wet, love’s ghost enters his mind like a Trojan Horse; seeping through “the minutest miniscule gaps of time and space”, the traumatic love forever existing in a “fugue state”.
Its eeriness bleeds into the pathology of King Krule’s sound, a sort of rusted jazz which occasionally gives way to psychotropic-induced trip hop. Like everything else on this disorientating album, it feels alive until the moment you realise it’s an apparition.
Primal, tense, and recursive, Space Heavy serves as another layer in the masterful and deeply unnerving project Marshall has embarked upon as King Krule. It’s an omnivorous sound that continues to eat up all the physical, mental and mythic space around us, growing more monstrous by the day.