Monday, August 16, 2010

Critical Theatre – Nine Tenths of the Law : Noise / Dark ambient / Drone

Reviewed by Gird_09

Usually, if you hand me guitar based noise I will be very sceptical. Too often have I been disappointed by what purports to be noise, but really is rock and roll with very little skill. Critical Theatre is not one of these instances. Quite the opposite.

As implied, the music is based around guitar and various other sound sources. The guitar provides a dynamic distorted soundscape that matches well with the other sounds – such as strings, percussive samples, detuned rythmic noises, drones as well as distorted melodies. It's very atmospheric, in a way I can only describe as sepulchral. There is a taint of horror in the music, but it always seems to be waiting around the next bend. It's never in your face, and it's never over the top. The distant melodies that linger somewhere in the distance provides an eerie counterpoint to the monstrously distorted guitars, and the steadiness and of the subtle conveyor belt beats. The recording reminds me somewhat of a more melodic version of strotter inst, but apart from that it is hard to pigeonhole.

The generated aural landscapes are incredibly introspective, and communicates a mood of intense isolation. Possibly even some form of hermetic seclusion. This theme of mysticism is carried over in the track titles, and their vague allusions to shamanism and tantrism. It's easy to see this music as some sort of spirit quest. A journey into a mental labyrinth.

Unlike many releases in the same genre this is a very dynamic album, which manages to stay interesting throughout. From the meditative Sacrificial King, to the noisy "drum and overdrive" of El Diablo Me Arronco La Lengua this album is never boring.

It's hard to say much more than that really. It's a well crafted album, both sonically and thematically and Critical Theatre is certainly on my watch list for the future.

1 Sacrificial King
2 The Burning Ritual
3 Yoni Verse
4 Freed High
5 El Diablo Me Arronco La Lengua
6 Untitled
7 7th level

USA, Self released CD-r, 2009

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Her Ethic – Spoiler Warning: YOU DIE : Post industrial / rock / goth

Reviewed by Gird_09

Her Ethic is one of those rare projects where young people actually take up the legacy of the original industrial bands and their sources of inspiration. Her Ethic has content and ballast, and some of the track titles read like short stories by Burroughs or Ballard. Even more positively Her Ethic sounds nothing like the tedious industrial metal or cliched toothless endzeit which pretends to carry the industrial torch these days.

Musically this record is more akin to industrial rock, and even a touch of goth can be heard in there. I know describing things as goth isn't very fashionable these days, but it's really the only appropriate term for it – and it sounds great. I'm certainly not one to complain, it's a good blend. Stylistically I want to compare it to Psychic TV, Joy Division, Alien Sex Fiend and Cassandra Complex, with some portions reminding me of the more punky experimental tracks by Bauhaus.

The album starts with Breed in Captivity, which slowly rises out of its coffin to an electronic drum beat, predatory bass line and vocals with heavy reverb. The lyrics are classical, and evokes images of animals pleading their case or accusing some personal Dr. Moreau. The track sets the pace and style for the rest of the album, which sounds as if it's jammed and rehearsed into being, rather than written and forced. The result is dynamic and playful, though it can be a bit abrubt in places. In particular several tracks end very suddenly, and could've used a softer outro.

Aside from this it's a well balanced and well composed album, with it's blend of industrial experimentalist rock, horror soundtrack intermissions and gothy portions. At times the music is atmospheric and brooding, other times it's pounding and energetic, and it's always murky as fuck. The vocals paint a bleak picture against a background of jarring guitars, cold synthesizers and uncompromising drums. This is especially true for the penultimate track, The Infant, the Desiccant and the Novichok agent, which along with the aforementioned Breed In Captivity as well as Priapism, stands out as really strong music.

The album ends with Pseudocide. A cacaphony of noise and samples from (presumably) Barrack Obama's inauguration as president serves as a fitting end to the album, just as it was a fitting end to any naive hopes on behalf of a more humane US president.

1 Breed in Captivity
2 Decomposition
3 Senescence
4 Cacogenesis
5 Priapism
6 Mascal
7 Neonatal Death
8 The Euthanasia Machinist
9 The Infant, the Desiccant and the Novichok agent
10 Pseudocide

Norway, file download, 2009

Friday, August 6, 2010

Brain - Katabasis : experimental ambient, contemporary classical music,

Reviewed by Gird_09

Katabasis is a term used in several different contexts, but literally describes a journey from the inland to the coast. Allegorically it has been used as a term for descending into the underworld, such as Orpheus' journey to retrieve his lost Eurydice from Hades, or other similar voyages. For this reason it's also a term we sometimes find in modern psychology, where it is used for a type of young male depression. Typically this form of depression is a result of the lack of father figures and rites of passage, and is related to a lack of male identity forming institutions.

Any of these two interprations help establish a context for the album, as it is both cthonian and post modern – both in terms of sound sources and in terms of presenting a dispersed universe to the listener.

The style of music is experimental ambient, with nods to early electronic music, and in many ways I have similar experience I get from listening to the electronic works of Arne Nordheim or Toru Takemitsu. Both of these are composers for whom I have the utmost respect and appreciation. The material is subtle and treated with textures to give depth and feeling of space, rather than to distort the material. It is however infinitly more soothing than either of those composers, and lacks the violent disruptions sometimes associated with the two. In terms of source material and treatment though the similarities are striking. Katabasis is certainly an album I wouldn't recommend for just anyone. It can be quite unsettling and demanding, and probably doesn't lend itself much to casual listening. If you're looking for introspective and meditative music to calm down to, this record would certainly be an excellent option.

The tracks are mostly made up of drones, based on manipulated recordings, slowly creeping towards some distant point. They're not dying to go anywhere but rather lingers in a texturized landscape of minute sounds and open space. It's like an ocean of sound in slow motion. I find myself thinking of long stretches of frost covered plains next to a lonely freight train somewhere on the Taiga.

I must say I am pleasently surprised by the music, because the interval between hearing new recordings of this type is rather long. Even more so considering that this is a free download. Normally this is the sort of music one doesn't get to hear at all, and if one does it is courtesy of some small and obscure record lable and its highly limited and undistributed print. Big kudos to Brain for making his music available in this way.

I wish I knew more about the artist and recording though. Not that it really matters. The music stands well enough on its own two legs.

1 Neither here nor there
2 Apocalypso
3 Railway to Oblivion
4 Seraphic Descent
5 Katabasis
6 Omphaloskepsis
7 Caress of steel wool
8 At the prick of a finger
9 All of nothing

USA, Nihil Est, File Download, 2009