Posts Tagged ‘TAR’

Cruel Nature Records – 9th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Cruel Nature clearly aren’t going for a major cash-in with this release, a 12-years-after-the-fact album containing the final recordings of a band who, while building a cult national following during their existence between 2002 and 2008, were predominantly a local phenomenon in their stomping grounds around Gateshead. Which means you may be forgiven for not being entirely au fait with Marzuraan and their work, of if you haven’t been o the edge of your seat and dripping with anticipation for this limited-to-75-copes cassette compendium.

For those not up to speed (and I’ll include myself here), the potted history of Marzuraan is that they started out as the duo of Pete Burn (guitar) and Lee Stokoe (Culver) (bass) before evolving into a full band with the introduction of Rob Woodcock (drums) and Stu Ellen (voice). ‘Taking their cue from bands such as Melvins; Black Flag; Harvey Milk; Earth; Godflesh and Loop, they soon cemented themselves as a pivotal band in the North East’s burgeoning Drone-rock / Trudge-core scene. Revered locally with a strong cult following nationally, they released 3 studio albums, appeared on countless compilations and split records influencing bands such as Bong and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs, before disbanding in 2008’. The title, therefore, is on point and self-aware to the max. But t’s never too late, right?

The recordings here – apart from two tracks which featured on an obscure compilation and split 7” back in the day – represent their final cuts, dating back to 2005 and 2006, and they’ve lain neglected in the proverbial vaults ever since.

But if anything, the timing couldn’t be better: what goes around comes around, and heavy music is very much enjoying a renaissance right now, and the north-east scene is also thriving thanks to various acts associated with microlabels represented by Cruel nature and Panurus Recordings.

It’s the seven-minute ‘Morphine Waterfall’ from the Mare Nero compilation that introduces the release, and it’s a dislocated, angular dirge of a tune that plods and trudges disconsolately through barren territory that alludes to early Swans and 90s Touch and Go, along with peer obscuritants like Oil Seed Rape and Zoopsia: it’s grunge distilled and chilled to sub-zero and as it builds toward the end, the guitars become increasingly discordant, while the snarling, rapping vocal becomes increasingly desperate.

It’s Tar and Girls Against Boys that come to mind through the low-end murk of the chunky riff grind of ‘Golden Roman’, and everything is there for a killer tune but the recording, despite having been remastered last year prior to release. It’s as muddy as hell. It doesn’t actually detract, for what I’s worth, and in many ways is integral to the gritty, lo-fi charm.

It very much sets the level: ‘Muckbucket’ and ‘Blowin’ Cool Breeze’ are built around thumping, repetitive riffs, but the guitars are trebly and skew off at divergent angles.

The final track, ‘Moneybox’, which previously featured on a record split with SINK is a doomy trudge that pushes the influence of early Melvins to the fore as it crawls in a sea of howling feedback and a 23bpm percussive trudge that’s paired with a gut-quiveringly downtuned bass. It’s ace. If you can cope with infinite suspense between drum beats and the striking of a single chord, that is.

Ten Years Too Late shows that Marzuraan were both a band of their time, and a band ahead of their time, sounding utterly contemporary now. Maybe it’s time for a reunion…

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bandcamp

December 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Ukranian industrial duo Kadaitcha, consisting of Andrii Kozhukhar and Yurii Samson, have stepped up a gear for their fourth album, Tar, which follows Southern Phlegm, which landed at the front end of the summer. It’s an expansion in every sense: sonically, it displays a broad palette, from barely-there ripples and clicks to all-out abrasion, with all shades in between, and with seven compositions, ranging from six-and-a-half to thirteen-and-a-half minutes in duration, there’s a lot of room in which to venture on an exploratory journey.

They describe Tar as their ‘most powerful and elaborate release so far’, and there’s a story of sort behind it, as Andrii explains: ‘[The] album cover is based on the images from the series APEIRON by Ukrainian photographer Maxim Dondiuk. It’s a series of scanned photo negatives found in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which were remaining there lost and forgotten for over 30 years, being subject to radiation and forces of nature.’

The images, available on Dondiuk’s site are disturbing and otherly, and convey more about the horror of the Chernobyl catastrophe, an event on an environmental, ecological and human scale that still has yet to be fully assimilated and that has, globally, faded into the annals of time for many, than any narrative possibly could. Tar effectively provides a soundtrack to these images. The album has a discernible arc, which transitions and deteriorates into ever-deepening distortion and degradation.

Spacious, atmospheric electronic layers hover and cascade around sparse desert guitar twangs at the start of the first piece, ‘Idle Hands’, before mangled chords, overdriven and distorted, crash in. ‘2219 F’ also collides soft, semi-ambient soundscaping with crushing wall-of-noise guitar screes that come on like an avalanche and devastate everything in their wake. And yet things are only just beginning to take shape: this only foreshadows the aural challenges yet to come. ‘Ran’ brings pulverizing rhythms and a deluge of noise in an altogether more overtly ‘rock’ format, and it’s got tension and attack, and marks the first stage in the transition toward a harrowing mess of ugly noise.

There aren’t many vocals on Tar, but when they do enter the mix, they’re gnarled, dehumanied, and monotone: ‘Eclipse’ is Throbbing Gristle on a doom-infused downer: a persistent electronic throb provides the backdrop to a detached, dehumanised vocal wheeze, and ‘Serpent Hill’s slithers into a murky morass of discomfiture. By the end – the overloading analogue explosion of the 13-minute ‘Yatagarasu’, which calls to mind Halogen-era Whitehouse – it’s a barrage of noise, a clunking beat and something semi-musical plinking away beneath a squall of white noise.

It hurts, but in a good way, a way that conveys damage, devastation, and environmental devastation.

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K - Tar

Hallow Ground – HG1703 – June 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

TAR is the fourth solo album by Tehran-based composer Siavash Amini, although he’s joined by Pouya Pour-Amin on electric double bass and Nima Aghiani on violin. Not that the individual instruments are readily recognisable in the thick sonic swirls which combine to forge the ever-shifting soundscapes of TAR at least in the main. But when Aghiani’s violin weeps and bleeds emotive from amidst the amorphous aural clouds which turn and taper, billowing and rolling, throbbing and pulsating.

‘A Dream’s Frozen Reflection’ begins droney but gentle, but inside the first two minutes breaks into a serrated sonic tempest. Music that sounds for all the world like a circular saw accompanied by a saw played more conventionally (does anyone play the saw any more? Or has it more or less gone the way of the comb and the washboard?) isn’t an easy sell, but Amini creates an intense aural experience that immerses the senses. But for all the harsh tones, there are contrasts in abundance, and through forging a shifting soundscape, the atmosphere changes, sometimes almost subliminally over the course of the piece.

‘Rivers of Tar’ plunges into murky, dark territory, but crystalline glissandos cascade through the eddying clouds of sulphur, while graceful strings rise and sweep expansively. It’s hard to determine whether or not it really carries an emotional resonance, but as a listening experience, it’s got more than enough range and features some passages which do have that vital drag.

At times, ‘The Dust We Breathe’ is barely there, delicate contrails of soft ambience washing in and out. There are periods dominated high-volume undulations of grating, snarling noise early on, but over the course of its fourteen-minute duration, the track drifts quietly and softly into the background.

It’s Amini’s ability to manoeuvre, effortlessly and almost untraceably, the trajectory of the four compositions from head-crushing abrasion to lulling calmness which is the greatest achievement of TAR. It’s an ambient album which carries a sting in the tail sharp enough to hurt, while equally massaging the mental receptors with its delicate tones.

The extent to which TAR translates Amini’s desire to explore ‘the fragile tensions between and individual and collective subconscious’ is largely irrelevant: TAR is an unexpectedly dynamic work, brimming with texture and contrast.

Siavash Amini – TAR