Posts Tagged ‘Ritual’

16th June 2019

Of course I was always going to be sold on an album with a title like Southern Phlegm. I mean, what’s not to like? Kadaitcha’s third release straddles ambient, drone, industrial, and power electronics to deliver four tracks driven by throbbing pulsating grooves welded to repetitive, cyclical guitar lines, and rent with the gnarliest, nastiest treble-shredded distorted vocals.

The first, ‘Phagocide’ pumps away for over nine minutes. The guitar and synths form a messy sonic fusion, a thick mass of distortion while wibbling space-rock blasts of analogue send blurred neon arcs through the heavily-grained backdrop like shooting stars. ‘Sewerbound’ is appropriately titled as it plunges deeper into impenetrable murk. It’s dominated by clattering percussion, the edges distorted and decayed, while screeding noise howls a vortex of sonic agony. Frequencies collide to create an endless flux of aural incompatibility. Everything is distorted, dirty, there’s malice in every note. The lyrics are impossible to decipher from amidst the sonic blitzkrieg, but there’s nothing about the delivery that suggests there’s any comfort or kindness on offer here.

Slow, brooding ambience builds an unsettling atmosphere during the opening minutes of ‘Datura’, before the overloading guitar crashes in. It’s got the low-end distortion of Sunn O))), but grinds away at a repetitive motif with the bludgeoning brutality of Swans. It’s a full-on kick to the diaphragm.

Closing off, ‘Vulpine Sacrifice’ arrives almost by stealth, a snaking bassline strolls in slow and slow, a stop/start stammer gives it an almost hesitant feel. Circuits fizz, crackle and hiss all over the place, before the final two or three minutes find the conglomeration of elongated hums coalesce to create something approximating ‘music’, akin to a swelling organ drone. But you couldn’t exactly call this brief moment of musicality that draws out to the fade the light at the end of the tunnel: it’s low, slow, and ominous and seems, if anything, to point toward another darkened door which opens onto stairs leading to an eternal abyss.

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Kadaitcha – Southern Phlegm

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Peaceville – 21st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Christ, this is fucking dark. The video which accompanies ‘Abysmal Channelling’ (the album’s bonus track, perversely enough), depicts scenes of an occult ritual, complete with burning incense, singing bowls, self-mutilation, frenzied bell-ringing, pools of blood, all against a backdrop of murky, mangled industrial noise.

Describing themselves as ‘blackened noise occultists’ US act T.O.M.B. (that’s Total Mechanical Occultic Blasphemy) have been going for 18 years now, and have, not surprisingly, remained deep, deep underground. Positively chthonic, in fact.

Fury Nocturnus is their thirteenth release, and while containing thirteen tracks (plus the aforementioned bonus cut), it contains no tunes, and the truth is, it’s very difficult to really establish what the hell’s going on amidst the dense sonic fog. Yes, they’ve fully embraced the

production values of early black metal classics – and it’s perhaps worth noting that Hellhammer, drummer of infamous Norwegian black metal trailblazers Mayhem is a key contributor to this album. This does mean, of course, that the guitars, drums, vocals and dark ambience which pervades every corner of the album is obfuscated by a thick, grainy coating of dinginess. A number of the tracks end abruptly, and there’s a distinctly low-budget, ‘cassette’ feel to this release. But then of course there is. And while occasionally grinding riffs seep through, there are no tunes, no overt structures and for the most part, it’s a seething morass of dark, dark noise cut through with tribal percussion.

Sometimes, there’s a very fine line between portentous and pretentious, grand art and derangement that borders on the dangerously deviant. It’s not entirely clear where T.O.M.B. sit, other than on a throne of bones in a temple hewn into some inaccessible rock face. They’re very much keeping it real in their approach to the music-making process: when creating the field recording soundscapes which feature on Fury Nocturnus, they report that certain necromantic instrumentation was used: human and animal bone, cemetery crypt doors, tombstones and coffins, and audio EVP equipment. I’m inclined to take them seriously if only because I don’t fancy the idea of being the next sacrificial offering, and crucifixion is, I understand, quite a painful way to go. I’m certainly not about to snort with derision about the cliché of the snarling vocals ranting about Christianity on ‘Hoards Rise Now, or any of the album’s many demonic invocations.

It’s not a fun or pleasurable experience, and protracted exposure to this dank, demonic, deviant, and deeply sinister noise feels like an act of self-flagellation. Needless to say, I’d take it over Justin Bieber, Kanye or Katy Perry any day.

 

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