Codex Serafini are a band that have been stalking the dark recesses of my psyche since I first saw an image of them. If you want to see this image search for Codex Serafini band; the image in question is one of four figures in red standing around a tree as its leaves fall to the ground. At first it’s hard to tell if they are levitating off the ground or even looking at the camera, as hair obscures the figures’ faces. Only by looking at slightly visible hands and feet can you work their directions. There is something malicious whilst being arcane about them. Imagine if Aphrodite’s Child looked like the Polyphonic Spree, but slightly more inquisitional and you’re close. It is a very unsettling picture. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you get the impression that they are up to something. It might not be trying to summon demons or open portals to other dimensions, but there is something old and musty about their interests. Given that their name is taken from a surreal encyclopaedia written by Luigi Serafini it’s kind of makes sense. The illustrations in the book are alluring whilst being repulsive.
And this leads us on to their debut EP Serpents of Enceladus. After a first listen, a slight odour of rotting wood, or dusty churches hangs from the speakers. Like something opaque is just lurking out of view. The five songs that make up Serpents of Enceladus are rammed with throbbing bass that intertwines with diaphanous vocals, making one continuous piece of music that twists, turns and skews itself along, as unbalanced melodies and detached riffs appear then disappear. Some motifs appear and reappear throughout, others only make fleeting appearances before they are engulfed inside a sea of saxophone and haunting vocals. What is striking is how cohesive the whole thing is. Given that Codex Serafini combine elements of Krautrock, prog, psych, doom and art-rock the music is incredibly listenable. Instead of messing about with time signatures, they ramp up the rum atmospherics with layers of drone bass, preternatural sax and eldritch vocals. The result is an EP that slaps, whilst it freaks you out.
Serpents of Enceladus is one of those rare releases that lives up to your initial intrigue. The music Codex Serafini create isn’t easily described or digested. Instead after imbibing, it festers inside you and makes itself known like a hypnagogic hallucination. You aren’t sure what is happening, or even if it’s real, but the memory of it lasts longer than the experience itself.
God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.