Photo: Alex McKelvey

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Hear the first track off Swarm at NPR: "The harrowing noise-punk trio Bambara smears discontent with the gloom of the Birthday Party, the spit of Swans and the lysergic mystery of Red Temple Spirits, but understands those are only points of departure. Dreamviolence, from 2013, was a promising if limited debut, mainly because its Bushwick basement recordings were cloaked in a muddy atmosphere. Swarm, recorded in a studio by Ben Greenberg, is a beautifully dynamic nightmare.

"An Ill Son,' the first single from Swarm, is a lumbering Western noir narrated by guitarist Reid Bateh's rambling psychosis. He opens with this unsettling image: 'The night when I first saw you / Your skull made all the skin on your face shine / Skin pulled so tight.' It's an ugly and alluring piece of noise, and a tantalizing taste of what's to come in 2016." - Lars Gotrich, NPR


" a flash flood, swooping in outta nowhere to rain down three minutes of utter anguish ...swelling every couple seconds, refusing to let up until everything's been washed clean. Peel back the skin on "Hawk Bones", and there's no end to the malevolence, from early Swans' back-basement seething to the dark triumphalism of stadium-goth. But-- Georgia boys that the Batehs and childhood friend/bassist William Brookshire are-- there's a thick streak of black-of-night country swirling around in the tempest, too: Reid Bateh's guitar chugs along like a runaway train, the occasional echo-drenched string-bend like a lonesome whistle howling through the stormy night. "Hawk Bones" isn't some piddly drizzle fit for dancing around in; you'd be wise to stay indoors and seek shelter where you can." - Paul Thompson, Pitchfork

Brooklyn-­based trio Bambara has been honing its noise/punk brutalism since forming in Athens, Georgia, in 2009. Swarm, the band’s second full­ length, pulls its approach into sharp focus, and the result is an absolute triumph for forward­ thinking post-­punk. In marrying the maniacal ravings of The Birthday Party and the ugliness of early Swans with the tangled cowpunk of The Gun Club and recent Iceage, vocalist/guitarist Reid Bateh, drummer Blaze Bateh, and bassist William Brookshire create something wholly idiosyncratic, and ultimately more satisfying than most anything else in the current post-punk landscape.

Swarm has taken a long and arduous journey to reach its current form. It was almost entirely recorded in early 2014, then entirely scrapped after a laptop containing the sessions was stolen. Realizing they needed to take a break from those songs, the band made an EP called Night Chimes, which much like Reid’s solo project, Feverer, stitched together noise improvisations into a coherent, composed whole. When they revisited the lost songs for Swarm, they entered the studio with Ben Greenberg (Uniform, ex-­The Men) with renewed purpose and laid down the majority of the tracks on the album in two days.

Despite the band’s Southern roots, Swarm is strongly informed by the band’s gritty Brooklyn digs. Reid’s vignettes describe a grimy city, filled with fragmented images of unhinged, unstable characters — including one inspired by the landmark Polish short story collection, "The Street of Crocodiles" by Bruno Schulz. The music perfectly complements the bleak atmosphere of the lyrics, with Reid’s Rowland S. Howard ­like guitar lines taking the foreground more than in past Bambara releases, and the pulsing rhythm section driving the songs to ever more depraved depths.

Tiny Mix Tapes praised Dreamviolence, the band’s first LP, by saying that “complete, utter anguish has never sounded this good.” Swarm makes it sound even better. With these 12 songs, Bambara prove that sometimes the only way to confront a fucked ­up world is to sink to its level.


RIYL:  Iceage, Protomartyr, David Lynch

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"BAMBARA's second single "Nail Polish" is an incredible blend of influences like Swans, early Nick Cave, and even Jesus Lizard into something that is truly their own. Beginning with a haunting drone to set the tone, an abrasive, distorted bass line eloquently drives the listener through ambient swirls, powerful punk breakdowns, and back again." - Noisey 

"Simply put, Bambara are not for everyone. But for those who love loud, expansive, noise-influenced post-rock that fills your stomach with a vague sense of dread, the three-piece are almost unparalleled. They alternate between spacious, haunting soundscapes and distorted full-band assaults but are never exhausting or overly serious." - Village Voice

"The three members of Bambara — twin brothers Reid and Blaze Bateh, and childhood friend William Brookshire — have been making music together since the seventh grade, which probably explains how the noise punks’ clobbering sound and art-grime aesthetic could already be so fully formed." - SPIN 

“I received a pre-release copy of the album a few weeks ago and was shocked by how the band, which could have easily traded on its deft knowledge of pop hooks and rock sensibility, chose instead to dive off the deep end into experimental murkiness and past-the-reef darkness. This is the soundtrack to the aftermath of an avalanche. Or a ship sunk long ago. The 13 tracks were recorded in the band’s New York basement, but carry all the desolation of a rural Wisconsin snowdrift. Yes. It’s that good.” – Gordon Lamb, Flagpole

"It’s a relentless, beautiful thing, starting off like the orphaned bastard of The Jesus Lizard’s Goat or the more ponderous moments of A Place To Bury Strangers’ debut before descending into a wild nightmare that only Swans could trip on. The go-to adjective for the band’s sound is “noisegaze,” and that’s only true to a point. Bambara have a very distinct method: the guitars and drums elevate the high end and level the low-end, but it’s the bass and the vocals that provide all the mid-range parts of the spectrum, resulting in a full and toxic sound. Even more baffling is their off-stage temperament: when they're not maniacally fuming or getting fireworks shot at them, these dudes are fucking sweethearts, masking their desire to make hellacious music with the Southern trademark of being laid-back and easygoing." - Brad Stabler, Ad Hoc