A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Consouling Sounds
Release Date: 6.11.13
Recommended for fans of: Jesu, Pelican, Red Sparrowes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Nadja/Aidan Baker, Neurosis, Ennio Morricone
This split between Brazilian 7-piece post-rock outfit Labirinto, and Canadian drone shaman Thisquietarmy, takes you on a voyage across seas and deserts, beyond the scenes of physical space, beyond the spheres, into the crystalline world of Platonic mechanics.
Thisquietarmy, the solo drone metal venture of Canadian Eric Quach releases quite a lot of music, 12 full albums and 12 EPS, and counting. I’ve been charged with reviewing his most recent output for Redefine Magazine, and i wanted to refresh myself where the man was coming from, to better assess the new album. This post would be more correctly tagged Backwards Listening AND 66.6 Series, where we trawl through the catalogs of musicians with huge discography – a madman’s version of the popular hipster bibles 33 1/3.
Its been really warming our hearts lately, to be deluged in post-rock and instrumental metal. Back in 2005-2006, that was practically all that we listened to, making the commutes to work or walking the dog a million times more epic. It was such a fucking downer when it seemed like all the post-rock bands were becoming bland imitators, hopping on the bandwagon, with nothing new to contribute. Like a lot of the musical community, we moved on to other things. Our love of METAL and instrumental music has never flagged or wavered, however, only growing stronger with time. The lack of lyrics doesn’t tie it down to a particular narrative, stimulating the imagination, sending the listener into mental paroxysms. The lack of words also makes it the perfect accompaniment for writing.
This split showcases the many faces of heavy instrumental music: from the Dylan Carlson opiated twang, to weightless kosmische synth exploration, to bone crushing post-metal. There is something here for every fan of instrumental music of the last decade, and these two outfits stitch it together seamlessly, in a new and intriguing way that encourages wild flights of imagination.
Labirinto opens things up with the first half of the split. They stick pretty close to the modern pantheon of classic explosive cinematic rock outfits; Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Ufomammut, Jesu, Earth, but it is executed with such grace and finesse, it will make you wonder why you ever went away from the genre in the first place. The traditional array of rock instrumentation is augmented with violin, cello and pedal steel, and synthesizer, all of which was masterfully recorded and mixed by Tony Doogan, who has previously worked with a bunch of famous Scots – Mogwai, Belle & Sebastian, and The Delgados.
‘Deluvium’ is the most essential moment of Labirinto’s side; it honors post-rock’s roots, while showing just how far it’s come. Clean, sparkling guitar in a mysterious mode meets some big damn drums and syrupy flanged synth. It brings to mind the glorious rush of GY!BE’s Moya, from The Slow Riot For A New Zero Canada EP, but supplemented with tinkling vibes, choirs from The Omen soundtrack, and the heaviest martial drumming this side of Neurosis. You’ll be digging out yr epic metal records from the storage shed, just in time for the dark months.
Labirinto had a highly acclaimed record in 2010, Anatema, that we missed out during our post-metal hiatus, so expect to hear more about this band, in the coming months.
After climbing into the stratosphere with a short, untitled track, Thisquietarmy showcases his wide range of styles and techniques, for his contribution. Songs range from blissful, weightless synth odysseys (‘Eclipse’), to echoing, looping infinite guitarscapes (‘Paths To Illumination’) to burning blissdrone meltdown (‘World Protest’). He seems to be telling a story, i get the feeling of unearthliness and return, which is emphasized by the song titles. It reminds me of someone meeting a transhuman intelligence, and having the veil ripped from His/Her ignorance, only to return to Earth, to incite others out of their apathy. One of the greatest challenges of instrumental music is how to keep people’s rapt attention, and the ‘soundtrack for a film that doesn’t exist’, i.e. telling a story, is a classic way of accomplishing this.
The funny thing is that Eric Quach, the man behind Thisquietarmy, doesn’t consider himself a musician, even after releasing more than 40 records with TQA and his former band, Destroyalldreamers. I get the sense that he is like a scientist or a painter in his laboratory, endlessly tinkering with tones and combinations, and stringing them together into new and unique soundworlds. He may lack formal training, or depend upon technology to make his music, but he has an instinct to make the most brutal, most beautiful, crushing distorted mindfucks around. I think more serious ‘musicians’ could stand to get back to this state, pure statement and execution.
I am reminded most strongly of another prolific noisy guitarist when listening to TQA: Aidan Baker, half of blissdrone duo Nadja. There is the sense of immensity, and of beauty, almost of worship. It seems to be music that is approximating Nature Itself, something beyond the petty ego and all its problems. Nadja had not really begun shaking cages when Godspeed You! first started blowing minds with their symphonic rock. I feel like they expanded the pallet to include the glacial tectonics of Doom Metal and noisy industrial synthesis, and i feel like TQA’s music, in particular, and post-rock, in general, benefit from the addition to their arsenal. This new wave of post-everything bands, whether that be shoegaze, drone, epic metal or whatever, mixed with the infinite potential of electronics, is creating new and interesting forms every second, and it makes me excited to be a participant, at this stage in the game.
The Thisquietarmy/Labirinto split is available from ConSouling Sounds.
If yr reading this, and happen to be in Europe, Thisquietarmy will be on tour until the end of November. Check his FACEBOOK page for complete tour listing.