Saturday, December 1, 2012
Aluk Todolo: Occult Rock
Despite the title there is nothing really Occult or rock at least what I consider rock on this album, this French band gets the black metal tag throw around on and in the beginning they have blast beats that sweep you off into their drone, there are a lot of other elements a post-rock math to some of what they do, Swans are an obvious influence some of the riffing reminds me Alice Cooper dabblings with prog on Killer.
The first two songs run into each other pretty seamlessly like on body of work which truth be told this album seems to be more movements than playing and like most more drone oriented bands that aren't the Swans it's more about the playing and dynamic solve and coagulation of it all rather than songs , where there is hooks and chorus sections. So the first movement is a very droned out tremolo guitar rolling t you in pretty furious cascade it brings to mind black metal, in like early Dark throne it has a kinetic sense of motion that creates its own atmosphere , but the closet lack metal this portion comes to is Fell Voices, but it never launches into the animalistic catharsis they get to Becuase there are no howling vocals to convey that.
The second movement which is the third song according to my iPod, is a more groove oriented orchestra of noise, the feed back is used to jab at you like old sonic youth while the bass takes on a more math rock groove if it was a thicker tone I'd see some Jesus lizard in it. The bass slinks out into another movement ,which takes a darker turn the feed back sits against it to create a back drop, like the evil twin of something Mogwai might do but guitar so doesn't try to steal what would be the spotlight back introducing the melody, yet this is dissonant yet I wouldn't say so abrasive there's ota sense of melody just not one that hooks you in. The ebb and flow here is brought by the swells of feedback, if this was the first "song" you had heard by these guys there is no wyatt you would draw the black metal comparison. There is also the first guitar solo of sorts that apears here, though the term would be used loosely it's notes picked out singularly , no shredding.
the next movement dark swells ring out behind the bass line which now is becoming the albums prominent instrument. They ramble into post punk groove and shade of feed back circle around this pattern, this section isn't the albums strongest point as like the previous section there's to much movement in the bass line for it to be a drone , suits a groove that is jammed upon. The bass modulates, it's well played but not interesting enough to comprise the song it's self and the guitars preoccupation with feedback doesn't really lend a hand much, there is a sense of of dynamics though the guitar knows when to drop out, but I don't think it's really going for less is more. When it comes back in shimmering it's a useful effect but the bass transition is a little awkward and just sounds like they are jamming in the living room after getting really stoned. Speaking of which occult must be in this case French for stoned out of our minds.
I guess the most rock n roll movement is the sixth ditty, where the bass is driving in a more straight forward fashion than it has earlier in the album, the guitar seems to be searching for the right place to sit. When the guitar being to chill and pick the chords around the bass they have a good thing going its one of the more melodic portions of the album, but when the bass and drums shift into a more straight forward pattern it leaves the sound feeling empty and an awkward place for the guitar to just drop off.
the bass and guitar resume their dysfunctional relationship of the bass having to hold things together while the guitar loses its shit and shit is lost in a noisy fashion here and I'm wondering where the black metal of the albums opening movements went.
Things take a noise punk turn in the seventh song, the feedback is more dizzying here and washes out leaving the pass and the drums to shuffle back off like a Bauhaus b-side, the guitar peeks back in making sure the coast is clear. One of their strong points is holding odd grooves, think knowing when to transition and when to head else where in the albums second half is where they are challenged. I do like how the guitar switches up from its normal modis operandi of feed back swelling into little harp like plucks.
In the final movement the distortion comes as there was lack of heaviness permeating the album by this point. It is slow but not doom and not dense enough to be sludge so it rumbles along like Neurosis lite, and breaks down until I Nader stand that here's where the vocals should go and perhaps a lot of hat they have been doing would have worked if vocals had held it together ,but what they were Doug. Wasn't always engaging enough for them to swing it as instrumentalists alone. I do like the whale song feedback the guitar back off into at one point but when they slightly retard the tempo and sludge along , there just isn't a sense this is heavy enough to convincingly pull it off.
If you are one of those people who hates vocals and listens to only instrumental music this might be for you and add two points to the score, while I really like where the album started it was like dating someone who makes a great first impression by leading you to believe one thing and then the more you go out with them the more you see that just isnt there, the majority of this is pretty unobtrusive back ground music for me, I'd still round this album up to a six while I really only like the first partthere are still some interesting sounds and moments it just loses steam , if they could have kept up the intensity of the first few movements it would have been a different story instead it drifted off into jams which weren't always sure of themselves so if you thought Amsterdam was the only place in Europe to get good weed think again.