At the end of March we premiered a song called “Stillborn Knowledge” by the Ukrainian band White Ward from their debut album Futility Report, a song I called “the most unusual piece of music I’ve heard this year, and one of the most striking”. If I hadn’t written that about “Stillborn Knowledge”, I probably would have written it about the next song from the album that we’re presenting today, which is the title track. I’ll have to come up with new words.
Futility Report will be released by Debemur Morti Productions on May 12th. What I know now, but didn’t know at the time of that earlier premiere, is that the whole album — start to finish — is an eye-opener. One song after another, I’ve caught myself thinking, “How in the world did they think of doing this? And how did they manage to pull it off so damned well???”
You can pitch genre conventions out the window, because White Ward certainly did. Calling the music “eclectic” would be an understatement.
For our first premiere from the album I made a feeble attempt to map the course of the music in all its unexpected variations. I decided to abandon that strategy this time, and come at “Futility Report” a different way.
The song is a “build”, in that it begins slowly and sparely and finishes (in its final two minutes) in a way that’s so blood-rushing and rhythmically compulsive that you’d have to be bleeding out on the pavement from a jugular wound not to move to it (even though the drifting melody, even then, is a somber thing).
As the song gradually mounts toward that vibrant, surging climax, it consistently surprises and fascinates. All rolled into this song, in ways that work, are tear-stained notes that echo off the vault of your skull, gales of guitar abrasion, blast-beats and double-bass thunder, the sounds of a saxophone moaning like a wounded beast, streamers of melody that go off like spiraling rockets, pulsing melodic tones that might bring to mind a calliope, a hard-punching/fast-darting bass performance, bursts of electronica, rhythms that jump and jolt and flicker and go faster than seems humanly possible (and might not be human at that point), agonized howls and tortured shrieks… and more.
There’s pain in the song, and desperation, and a lot of fight, too. There’s black metal and jazz, electronica and hints of post-punk. It seems like dark music for asphalt jungles instead of frigid steppes or snow-laden forests. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, but not so far off that you lose the weight and intensity of extreme metal, White Ward might be your answer.
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