Simona Zamboli – A Laugh Will Bury You

Posted: 30 December 2022 in Albums
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Mille Plateaux – 23rd December 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Where do you go when the press describe your debut album “a game changer, the sound of the future, now”?

Ethernity was certainly an outstanding work, a hybrid electronic album of myriad forms in combination and juxtaposition, with no shortage of space-rock elements, but also many textures and layers, not to mention a fair amount of atmosphere and some noise.

The way to go, then, at least if you’re Simona Zamboli, is on your own direction. Instead of attempting to create Eternity II, she’s pursued her experimental bent to create a substantial body of work in a short time, with singles, EPs, and live performances all testing different angles, before narrowing her focus for this second album to explore a specific subject, namely laughter. She describes laughter as ‘a fragile rebellion’ which ‘can be also a kind of horror’. And there is no shortage of horror – or strangeness – on offer here.

Yes, it’s still electronic, and there are still loops and beats, but the vibe is quite, quite different on an album where, according to the accompanying notes, ‘Zamboli destroys the standards of the current horrible music of a harmonies-of-harmonies.’ Indeed, A Laugh Will Bury You belongs more to the Industrial scene of the late 70s and early 80s than anything else: the ominous murky tones of Throbbing Gristle, and the relentless barrages of percussion as typified by Test Dept and Einstürzende Neubauten. It’s a dense and often quite weighty work, and Zamboli counterpoints low, low, sub-bass frequencies with some pretty harsh treble while misting things in a murky midrange to quite claustrophobic effect.

‘Movement’ is the first composition to feature voice, and it manifests as an eerie, slightly twisted thing that renders the words difficult to decipher at times, and when they are clear enough, something about the delivery seems to alter their sense, somehow, taking on quite a nightmarish quality against a minimal, rumbling sonic background with backed-off beats thudding around low in the mix. Voice becomes another instrument as the album evolves, echoing, abstract, haunting, not quite present but not absent either.

There are moments of unexpected lightness, few as they are: ‘I’m not there’ is a pretty straight techno tune in many respects, the kaleidoscopic waves of synths spinning about an insistent beat that’s entirely danceable. ‘Dive’ is propelled by a glitched-up march of sorts. Time stalls as the loops twist, melt, and blur into one another on the slow and oppressive ‘Guiditta & Oloferne’, before ‘Corrosive Tears’ brings six minutes of mangled beat-driven abrasion and gnarly bass. The vocals sound more like howls of pain than peels of laughter, and there’s a sense of unease that permeates the work as a whole, and grows as the album progresses. It’s that sense of the eerie, the unheimlich; the near-familiar but not quite right. It feels like a burial, and any laughter you may splutter out is likely to be uneasy and mirthless.

And yet, as the ear-battering attack of the title track reins down a hard battery of beats and blasts of noise, as much as the feeling is one of tension, there is also, ultimately, joy. There is that release in catharsis, and the pleasure of experiencing sound used in such a radical and creative way that is uplifting in a way that words can only skirt around. A Laugh Will Bury You is more than just an album, more even than an evocative, multi-sensory experience, but something… immersive… and submersive. Let it bury you.

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