Posts Tagged ‘Organic’

Neurot Recordings – 7th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Stepping out from the Neurosis fold once more to deliver a fifth solo album since the turn of the millennium, Steve Von Till brings more grizzles bleakness across six lengthy songs. These are still very much songs in the conventional sense, structured, organised, focused, centred around melody and instrument and voice. And as the title suggests, No Wilderness Deep Enough finds Von Till wandering some dark, barren territories.

As is a defining feature of the Neurosis sound, there’s a richly organic feel to the music here. Brooding strings provide the core for the sparse but dark orchestral arrangements which dominate this bleak, acoustic-led album that places Von Till’s grizzled, growling vocals to the fore.

A sparse piano motif – which is almost a direct replication of Glissando’s ‘Floods’ plays out the outro on ‘Dreams of Trees’, the album’s first song, which is a low-key, percussion-free post-rock effort that tugs at emotional levels that have lain dormant for an eternity – or at least since we’ve all been clenched in the spasm of lockdown. It taps into a different and deeper psychological space.

It’s all remarkably low-key, so does actually require some attention to fully absorb, but some quiet time and contemplation soundtracked by No Wilderness Deep Enough makes for a quite moving experience.

Oddly, much of No Wilderness Deep Enough sounds more like I Like Trains fronted by Mark Lanegan, and the dark introspection of single release ‘Indifferent Eyes’ carries the same brooding, mood, and a sense of a cracked emotional state – ground down, world-weary, harrowed, and bereft, embattled, bloodied, but still standing. Von Till conveys all of this with a heavy-timbred creaking sigh, a ravaged, Leonard Cohen growl delivered with magnificent poise. You feel this: every note, every word.

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Gizeh Records – GZH99 26th June 2020 (Digital) / 25th September 2020 (LP/CD)

Christopher Nosnibor

Wren’s third album – or ‘third chapter in Wren’s seasonal lore exploration’ as the press release puts it – is their first on Gizeh, and promises ‘six melancholy-shrouded sonic ruminations [which] swell between intimate performances devoid of adornment, and evolving soundscapes of auditory ruin’. And pitched as being of interest to fans of Godflesh, ISIS, Kowloon Walled City, Neurosis, it does the job of bringing slow-burning slow-trudging metal with an emotionally-articulate aspect and certain musical nuance.

The first megalithic sonic slab to assail the listener is the nine-minute ‘Chromed’, an epic battery of guitar and anguished vocal, and it piledrives in with a repetitive chord sequence, there are heavy hints of Amenra, and it’s the grainy, earthy quality that’s most reminiscent of Neurosis. There’s a lot of space here between the crushingly weighty power chords that drive, hard, low, and slow, less like a battering ram and more like a tank driving against a wall: slow, deliberate, and completely devastating.

There is detail, there is texture, and there is space within the broad parameters of this ambitious work, giving moments of respite and pauses for reflection between the raging infernos of fury that flare upwards toward the skies from the troughs of gloom. And yes, Groundswells is gloomy, dark, lugubrious, the soundtrack to motional trauma and swings from anguished introspection to annihilative rage.

If the album’s entirety could be encapsulated on a single track, it would be the dynamically-flexible ‘Subterranean Messiah’, which stretches out beyond ten minutes as it works it was way though a series of peaks and troughs, venturing into a range or mood-spaces and sonic terrains to forge a compelling sonic journey that’s utterly immersive. Jo Quail adds layers of subtlety and not to mention sonic depth with her cello work on the track also.

The final song, ‘The Throes’ is a grinding dirge, Godflesh played at the pace of Swans’ Cop. But amidst the torture, punishment, and the anguish – those excoriating vocals and that shrieking lead guitar that battles against the dense, slow chug and grind coalesce to form a perfect prism of pain, the psychological expressed through the physical.

If the band’s name suggests something soft, delicate, melodic, then Groundswells tears those expectations to shreds in the most obliterative way. It’s simultaneously harrowing and beautiful, and an all-consuming experience.

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SOFA – SOFA 555 – 13th January 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s no secret that I have a real penchant for what the man on the street – and most of my friends, and certainly the uncultured crets in my dayjob would brand ‘weird shit.’ Indeed, it’s fair to say that Aural Aggro’s primary raison d’être is to give coverage to the obscure, weird shit that exists way, way off the radar. It’s not necessarily that I’m being wilfully perverse: oftentimes, I will simply find that the supposedly weird shit resonates with me on some subconscious level, in the way that only music can. But then there are some releases that I appreciate because they’re plain bizarre. Muddersten’s Karpatlokke is an album that appeals on both levels, in that sonically, it’s intriguing, unusual, dark and intense, and conceptually, and in its construction, it’s utterly perverse.

‘Muddersten is a type of mudrock whose original constituents were clays’, the press release explains. Perhaps it was creative misprision on my part, but I immediately began to envisage the trappings of an obscure subgenre, a bastard offshoot of sludge metal, or a hybrid born out of crust punk. This would ordinarily make more sense, contextually, than the literal meaning which in fact applies here.

The second release to land with me in a week to feature Martin Taxt and his microtonal tuba, the instrumentation listed in the creation of this creeping compost-based composition is nothing if not unusual: Håvard Volden plays (relatively) conventional instruments, the guitar and the tape loop. Taxt, along with his microtonal tuba, contributes electronics. And then there’s Henrik Olsson, master of objects, friction, and piezo. I had to look up piezo. Precisely how one renders music from abstractions is unclear, but this strange union, which finds the trio conjure an album which is ‘all about the hydraulic’ and is preoccupied with the movement of moisture through clay and soil and its absorption by plants, is a successful one. And, for the second time in a week, I’m compelled to contemplate the line in Marvell’s ‘To His Coy Mistress’ which refers to ‘vegetable love’. Karpatlokke could well be a definite soundtrack to the Aristotelean reading of the concept.

The sounds the trio produce are appropriately earthy, although by no means overtly or conventionally musical in their nature. As such, the music does not feel as if its mechanical origins are instruments as man-made as guitars, tape-loops and electronics. Although predominantly organic-sounding, there are some pretty gnarly tones to be found here: droidal, digital squeaks and bleeps ping rapidly around sharp-edged bursts of sound. Drips and groans counterpoint dark, growling rumbles. ‘Kjempeløk’ grinds out a heavy, trudging vibration, thickly abrasive. Slow-motion scrapes turn through glitchy, crackling rhythms on ‘Stjerneskjerm’, as strings bend, bow and slowly slip the sprockets of time. It’s an unsettling work, evoking slow, creeping movement and evolutionary growth, amplified: the sonic equivalent of a nature documentary shot in high-definition, with ultra-close-ups, the frames sped up and slowed down to render in the sharpest relief the brain-bendingly awesome occurrences which take place daily in the natural world, unnoticed and invisible to the naked eye.

Each track’s title refers to a plant: ‘Stjerneskjerm’ translates as ‘Astrantia major’, commonly known as ‘master wort’, and the impressive-sounding ‘Blodstorkenebb’ is in fact a composition inspired by the rather humble Geranium sanguineum, aka bloody crane’s-bill or bloody geranium. Yes, this dark, dank, swirling noise which gnaws as the intestines and churns at the cranium is inspired by a bloody geranium. Which why it’s a great, if extremely unusual, album. Well worth digging out.

 

Muddersten – Karpatklokke