Commendatio III

Daniel Avery + Alessandro Cortini – “Illusion of Time”
[Phantasy Sound / Mute Փ Ambient]

Even the most pessimistic of philosophers will admit that life has some pleasures. Eating a banana. Opening the car window and sticking our hand out to sense the wind on a hot summer’s day. Or the failures of our friends that make us feel better about our own shortcomings, because schadenfreude is so addictive that it could be part of the substances banned by the DEA. I just remembered another one: taking off your shoes when you get home. And that is what this album reminds me of. Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini are used to noisy venues, tachycardic BPMs, having their clothes smell like tobacco, between Boiler Room sessions and Nine Inch Nails concerts. But “Illusion Of Time” is like taking off your boots when you get home. We say “aaah…”, we wiggle our toes and we’re glad we don’t have to turn our ears at someone’s face to hear a platitude like “I really like your work” anymore. It’s a record that abandons any pretension to rhythm, that renounces the urban planning of metropolises and exchanges it for the peninsular chance of nature. No more standing up in the DJ booth, now it’s sofa time.

Nürnberg – “Paharda”
[Sierpien Փ Post-punk – Coldwave]

I don’t understand a single word of what is said in this album, but I don’t need it either. You only have to listen for five seconds to understand where it comes from and where it’s not going. There is always immobility in good post-punk, a crystallization of time, isolationism that refuses to open doors to those boring ass defenders of modernity. Fuck modernity. Fuck breaking news. Does that shit even matter when you have a good synthesizer, a flesh-and-bone bass, and a dramatically melodic guitar? That slow urgency of a depression cooked at minus temperatures? The Belarusians Nürnberg didn’t need a lockdown to stay where they are. Their social distancing began when they crossed paths in a record store with Factory albums. And, look, it worked. I’m pretty sure I won’t listen to better post-punk tracks than “Zorki” this year.

Deogen – “The Endless Black Shadows Of Abyss”
[Knife Vision Փ Raw Symphonic Black Metal]

There’s one shit that usually makes me puke right away: symphonic black metal. What a good emetic that is. But strangely enough, it works with Deogen. I don’t know if it’s the dirty production, the icy atmosphere, the good glacial riffs, but these two guys managed to touch a nerve I didn’t even know I had. Songs like “Besieged By Total Darkness” are perfectly well-crafted, the synth reveals itself appropriately and I don’t ever feel there’s stuff here well over the top. It’s balanced, it’s raw and beautifully hateful – the closing instrumental track is nothing short of gorgeous. Fuck Dimmu Borgir, still.

Departure Chandelier – “Dripping Papal Blood”
[Self-released Փ Raw Black Metal]

Okay, I admit it, some people know how to use synthesizers in black metal. But compared to the Deogen, Departure Chandelier are much more subtle in that instrumentation. If the former put that symphonic element in Marshal Soult’s advanced position, the latter prefer to establish it in the rear, under Mourat’s watchful eye. Napoleonic references to the battle of Austerlitz have an obvious justification, as Departure Chandelier continue, after their magnificent second album “Antichrist Rise To Power”, to vassalage the man who, even though he was a target of mockery for his height, social status, and Corsican accent, managed to get the old European courts to soil their underpants. This thirteen-minute demo (originally recorded in 2010) only has two real black metal tracks, but let’s not ignore the intro, nor the outro for that mater – after all, this band an effort by old friends O.T., Dominick Fernow, and Kris Lapke. If we add them up, we’re talking about 50 projects, 20 musical genres and 10 labels, probably. They can do anything and they can do it greatly.

Erik Griswold – “All’s Grist That Comes To The Mill” 
[Room 40 Փ Classical]

If you watch this video, you will surely understand the true size of this project. We’re talking about sixteen pianos stuck in an architectural effort known as “The Piano Mill”, a steampunk tower in the middle of the wild Australian nothingness. Inside of if, several musicians then decided to play live, for an audience, what Erik Griswold had envisioned in his mind for this beastly undertaking. Again, sixteen pianos, thirty-two hands, under an exercise of communal isolation in the sort of territory that is propitious to it, so fitting to this sort of outpost experimentation.

Christian Mirande – “Exercise” 
[Hanson Փ Musique Concrète – Field Recording]

This is the stuff nightmares are made of. Seriously, when we find ourselves reading the tag ‘ambient’, we are often waiting for something that has the ability to calm us down, to put our brains half asleep, some sort of honey-drenched pacifier, stuffed through our mouth in the form of beautiful and mellifluous melodies. But with Christian Mirande that’s not what happens. Forget those good nights of recovering sleep, that feeling of peace when you wake up to face another day on this Earth. “Exercise” seems almost like the lung movement of a military dystopia, where the citizens are forced to fulfill a task. What task, you may wonder? It’s up to you to imagine. Is it to put coal on the back to light the pyres, ready to incinerate those who have not complied with the orders coming from the top of the hierarchy? Is it digging up a pet cemetery to make jewelry out of bones, the only kind of ornament allowed in this totalitarian state? Is it listening to ABBA on a loop to death?

Black Curse – “Endless Wound” 
[Sepulchral Voice Փ Death Metal]

Now, this is some fucking nasty shit. If you’re into the sort of Teintablood-like death metal, almost ‘warish’, then, sir, I shall recommend you to please take a seat and have a feast. The mid-tempo stomping is neck-breaking, but so are the abrupt speed changes, the shrieking anarchic solos, those I-don’t-know-if-I-am-still-human-anymore schizo vocals. It’s so damn straight to the point, so bludgeoning, so quintessentially death metal than any more words about it would be rather pointless, when “Endless Wounds” clearly appears to be anti-exegesis. This record is telling me to fuck off and I will, otherwise I may find myself telling that this is a supergroup and nothing sucks more than that.