Posts Tagged ‘Sanford Parker’

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that a doom / sludge metal act should take their time over things – and Sheffield trio Kurokuma have really taken their time over things in order to deliver their debut album. Having formed late 2013, they’re one band whose progress can’t have been said to have been hampered by the pandemic: instead, they’ve been evolving their sound over the course of a number of single and EP releases, notably the Advorsus EP in 2016 and 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ single. This means that the arrival of Born of Obsidian feels like an event, a monumental summit in the band’s career. And if five tracks, in the face of it, does‘t look like much by way of a definitive statement that represents the apogee of some eight years of work, the fact that all bar one are over eight minutes long and each one packs the density of a black hole gives some necessary context.

‘Smoking Mirror’ lands things perfectly; there’s a definite groove, even a hint of funk – not in the Chili Peppers’ funk metal sense, but in a twisted, fucked-up psychedelic sense – to the bassline that bounces along before the crushing power chords crash in. The vocals snarl and scraw and everything comes together to deliver optimum weight. It may be a cliché to sat it needs to be played loud, and playing any metal not loud is a mistake, but having been recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian), volume really increases the appreciation of the quality production. There’s not only great separation between the instruments, but each brings something more to the overall mix. On ‘Smoking Mirror’, your attention is likely to be on the churning guitar, but the drums are outstanding in the way they kick through the dense, treacle-like distortion.

They promise an album that’s ‘equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia’, and it’s all there in the pulverising repetitions of ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’. For its brevity, it packs in a neatly-constructed structure, with intro, verses, chorus, mid-section – which brings an explosive change of tempo – and megalithic, gut-churning riffing that rages hard and heavy. It demonstrates that there’s a lot going on with these guys, and that they’re not just lug-headed chord-thudders, but possess a level of musical articulateness that separates them from many of their peers.

Single cut ‘Jaguar’ is, it turns out, entirely representative, a roaring beast of a tune that has a rare swing to it – and a lot of cowbell. It warps and lurches with remarkable dexterity for something of such colossal weight. The repetitive riffery of ‘Ololiuqui’ batters and bludgeons relentlessly, maintaining its form and instead varying the tone and depth of the distortion, and stepping up the volume incrementally, before the nine minute ‘Under the Fifth Sun’ delivers a decimating conclusion.

With bulldozing, unyielding mass and density, Born of Obsidian is high-impact: Kurokuma have mastered the power of hard volume and brutal force – as is in keeping with the genre. But where Kurokuma stand apart – and above – is in the detail, the nuance, the deviation from the blueprint, which shows a unique flair, and surely Born of Obsidian is destined for cult status.

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Neurot – 28th September 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

As you’d perhaps expect from an industrial collaboration between Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Sanford Parker (Buried at Sea), Mirrors for Psychic Warfare’s second album is heavy on the atmospherics. It’s also simply heavy. The songs themselves are considerably more concise than on the eponymous debut – there are no sprawling ten-minuters here, but they pack an oppressive density. I’ve probably arrived at I See What I Became in the wrong frame of mind: it’s one of those days where the spirits are low and you now that listening to Joy Division or Faith by The Cure would be a bad idea.

I See What I Became isn’t a mopey album. It’s just bleak.

It’s a slow build to start: ‘Animal Coffins’ shifts incrementally from rumbling dark ambience through a slow pulsing beat to a swirling, rhythmic throb of noise with exotic, mystical voices. With processed beats that click and thud, ‘Tomb Puncher’ is a crawling dirge dragged from the techno end of industrial, and is highly reminiscent of PIG, while elsewhere there’s the heavy wheeze of JG Thirlwell at his more experimental. The mechanised rhythms are cold, clinical, but also distorted and decaying at the edges, adding a layer of dirt to a sound that’s encrusted in filth and dried viscera. A sense of the grand and the epic inform the delivery and the production.

There’s an eastern flavour to ‘Rats in the Alley’ with its snaking motifs and frenetic percussion, but it’s partly submerged in a swathe of extraneous noise. There’s a lot of extraneous noise on I See What I Became: the instrumentation melts together so as to render the individual sources indistinguishable. Everything congeals into a heavy-grained sonic wall. On ‘Crooked Teeth’, things crank up slowly, picking up pace, volume and claustrophobic intensity before collapsing into a synapse-flickering cacophony of discord.

What does this articulate, emotionally, psychologically? Far from the clarity of enlightenment the title may suggests, I See What I Became conveys a wallowing in darkness and a sense of resignation, hollowed out, nihilistic. It’s a heavy grind that wears you down, and by the end, I feel drained. I see nothing, and I feel numb.

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I See What I Became is the new full-length from Mirrors For Psychic Warfare, the industrial collaboration between Neurosis’ Scott Kelly and Buried At Sea’s Sanford Parker, incoming on Neurot Recordings this September.

Produced by Seward Fairbury (Corrections House) and Negative Soldier, mastered by Collin Jordan (Eyehategod, Indian, Wovenhand, Voivod etc.) with decibel manipulation by Dave French (Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth, The Anunnaki), the duo’s follow-up to 2016’s critically-lauded, self-titled debut boasts eight tracks of unsettling and unapologetic audio demolition.

In advance of its release, the duo have shared an official video for the album track ‘Crooked Teeth’ created by Chariot Of Black Moth, which you can watch here:

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My Proud Mountain – 22nd July 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

It takes a while to get going: the first minute and a half is simply drifting sound, like the distant sea. But Lash Back is an album that takes it time to build atmosphere. Parker may be the lauded producer and electronics wrangler behind some of metal’s more intriguing contemporary acts, but Lash Back is certainly not a metal album. But it is dark and as innovative an album as you’re likely to hear this year.

Stammering snare drums add an element of unpredictability to the sedate and solid bass-led rhythm on opener ‘Psychic Driving’. As the layers of sound overlay one another, forming a towering sonic cathedral, one is increasingly moved to awe. The stark industrial electronica of ‘Knuckle Crossing’ hangs over a slow, deliberate beat, shifting shapes and textures shading shadows and conjuring an air of coldness and dislocation, while ‘Slow Children’ broods ominously. Parker’s compositions, and their execution, show extreme restraint, the emphasis very much on building tension rather than looking to grant its release. Just as the invisible monster is always scarier than the one which reveals itself, the undefined threat and menace that lurks on, and beneath, the surface of the tracks, is more powerful than their realisation.

There are sustained sonic attacks, and plenty of them for those who relish the blistering noise assault: the aforementioned ‘Slow Children’ does eventually burst into a steely crescendo, and the slow surge of all-engulfing noise that is ‘Low Gaps’ is breathtakingly dense, with heavy hints of Prurient in its tone and the juxtaposition of synth sounds more commonly found on commercial dance albums, with mangled industrial noise, and the sonorous mechanical grating of ‘Sheep Slaughter’ is every bit as abrasive as the title suggests; it’s a soundtrack of pain, of death, of mass-scale killing.

Lash Back is by no means an accessible or easy album, but then, it isn’t meant to be, and Parker has produced something that is unusual and unsettling, and which conforms to precisely nothing.

 

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