Product of Terri and Ed Cripps, Batavia is the spiritual and creative extension of this atypical couple married in a retro arcade in Jacksonville, in front of an Addams Family pinball machine. Both long-time musicians and united by the sacred bonds of gothic industrial music, they form a duo called Batavia, that draws its inspiration from the sounds of the punk and industrial scene of the 90s. Their repertoire includes an EP, Graveyard, released in July 2020. Quite Mean Spirited, released in August 2020, is available in digital format and will be the subject of our review.
The subject of this EP is far from being trivial. It is a journey, an exploration of the darkest and most malevolent corners of the human soul. Its eponymous title features a video that premiered on ReGen Magazine on August 27, 2020. It shows ancient warrior archive footage, shrouded in a terrifying and burning red veil.
Fans of 16 Volt, The Smiths and Skinny Puppy or industrial Goth music in general will find something to satisfy their ears. Very pulsating rhythmics dressed by heavy electric guitars and synthesizers are mixed with dehumanized voices filtered by effects. Quite Mean Spirited delights the listener with its beautiful melodies, its deep ambiences and its compositions with sophisticated structures. Well thought out, it does not lock itself into the genre and comes out of a framework clearly delimited by its first two titles through “Ab Initio” and “Finis”. These two pieces are part of the same story based on real facts, the tragic life of a deportee in the heart of Soviet Russia in the 1930s. “Ab Initio” is lighter in its melancholic tone, notably thanks to the guitar sounds without saturation and to a rather sober accompaniment that lets us fully appreciate the different voice plays. The use of sound design confers a dreamlike aspect that turns into a nightmare in “Finis”, a title that gives us a horrific atmosphere, very cinematographic. The drums are very bare and play a rhythm similar to a heartbeat. The presence of a piano and an organ playing a small Malaysian melody allows us to follow the terrifying journey of the character in this story to its end.
Quite Mean Spirited promises excellent things for the future and makes Batavia a band to follow and support in these times when artists’ means of self-expression have been cruelly diminished.
Translation: Joanne Gagnon