Sub Pop (2006)
This album is really seedy and it literally just sent shivers down my spine. Ominous and grim, it’s the opposite of Burned Mind. The devastation, as opposed to being constant, is threatened. And it plays with the mind. What started off as some exercise in darkly ambient sax-skronk has mutated, Tetsuo-style, into a disgustingly compelling Enemy of the Sun for 2006.
There is noise on this record, but not of the obliterating kind that the listener gives himself up to. Instead, it’s occasional, and horrible, noise. High pitched squeals, electronic screams that segue from one song to the next.
Except they’re not really ‘songs’ per se. More just separate steps on this journey into madness. Sparse and sordid, it’s like marching through black radioactive waste while buildings burn in the distance. This is where the Enemy of the Sun comparison comes in. That album was a rather sparse, and incredibly dark, move from Neurosis. Very sludgey, it relied on sharp dynamic twists on its dank, marshy musical road, to offer dynamic thrills and discomforting atmospheres.
While the overall sound of this album is not in your face, it’s constantly in your mind, having wormed through your ears and into the cerebrum. The music gives off an incredibly uneasy atmosphere. So much so, in fact, that when it gives way to the raging noise of aptly titled closer ‘Noise Not Music’, the feeling one encounters is actually one of relief.
I suppose that’s the true meaning of ‘catharsis’, a word that has been all too raked over the coals in the past decade or so, when it comes to the medium of music. One would hope releases such as this free the term from the clutches of Korn, or Limp Bizkit, in which it has been imprisoned for the last decade.
The strangest thing is that, despite how unpleasant a listening experience it is, there is an overriding, visceral feeling – more of a knowledge – that this is probably the album of the year in a strange way. In the same way that Tomorrow Never Comes, by Xinlisupreme, was to 2002.
That’s not to say this album is particularly similar to the Fat Cat cult hit. There is no parallel for the latter album’s beautifully disconnected single, ‘All You Need is Love was not True’, for a start. There is, however, that similar general feeling that this album is a very necessary aural ugliness to provide a dynamic counterpoint to all the immaculate production doing the rounds nowadays. A wake up call, if you will.
This is not an album I’ll be sticking on before heading out on a Friday night. It’s not an album I will be sticking on much at all, to be honest. But that’s fine. In that sense it really is the successor to the Xinlisupreme, Enemy of the Sun and Swans‘ Filth.
Won’t be listening to it too much; doing so would be to dilute the impact anyway.