SHADES OF BLACK (PART I): KVAEN, CHAOS PERVERSION, BAALZAGOTH, CAILLEACH CALLING, TONGUES, YSYRY MOLLVÜN
After exhausting myself yesterday preparing a 12-song round-up of new music and videos I thought I’d take it easy with NCS today, not completely abandoning the SHADES OF BLACK column but limiting it to about three songs. But after I started working my way through a list of possible choices I succumbed to compulsion. How could I leave this one off, or that one, or that one over there?
At the end of that agony I had 13 pieces of music I wanted to convey, most of them advance tracks from forthcoming records but with two EPs and an album in the mix. I arranged them as best I could and then chopped them into two parts. Here’s Part I (please apologize to your wallet for me).
In December I premiered a play-through video for the title track to Kvaen‘s fine new album, The Great Below. A few days ago a second song emerged, along with a lyric video.
This new one, “In Silence“, features bleak lyrics, and the music shares the bleakness, creating a musical portrayal of torment and melancholy introspection. In the softer parts the rippling and ringing instrumentation, backed by symphonic shimmer, is haunting and hypnotic, but the music also seethes, rages, and soars. Gorgeous guitar solo too.
Black Lion Records has set The Great Below for release on March 25th.
CHAOS PERVERSION (Chile)
Here’s the EP I mentioned in the introduction. The spooky intro track makes for a decent segue from Kvaen‘s song, but after that Chaos Perversion create music that combines immense subterranean upheavals, boiling guitar dementia, and deep, hideous vocals that sound like gurglings and screams from a throat clogged with maddened hornets. The music sounds like it was recorded in an immense sewer pipe, and the sensations are utterly abysmal and poisonous.
The songs create electrifying terrors through the generation of dense choking miasmas, the sounds of violent feeding frenzies and immense grinding excavations, the groan of grim imperious fanfares, and eerie melodies of misery. No hope shines from these tracks, only pain and death.
The EP’s name is Petrified Against the Emanation. It was released by Sentient Ruin on January 21st.
I thought the next song and video would make a good and gruesome companion to follow that Chaos Perversion EP. The riffing roils and writhes in madness, and the drums maniacally batter. When the rhythm segues into a lurching stomp and the vocalist roars from abyssal depths, the music oozes sickness and suffering as the chords drag and the lead guitar wails. When the drums tumble, the riffing begins to swirl and dart, adding a witchy dimension to this multi-faceted display of deathly horror.
“Aborted” comes from Baalzagoth‘s debut album Morbid Persecutions, which will be released in April 2022 by Mara Production. The band’s line-up spans generations, with a leader in his mid-40s and a drummer who is 13 years old.
CAILLEACH CALLING (U.S.)
Now this playlist I’ve made will take you on a sharp turn with the next two songs, which I thought made a natural pairing. The first one is off the debut album, Dreams Of Fragmentation, by this California duo — guitarist/bassist/synth-player Tony Thomas (Dawn of Ouroboros, Botanist) and vocalist Chelsea Murphy (Ouroboros) — who are accompanied on the record by drummer Yurii Kononov (ex-White Ward).
Perhaps because the line-up features a former White Ward member, “Bound By Neon” put me in mind of some of that band’s nighttime urban soundscapes. The music does sound like neon lights, glinting gleaming in arresting but unnatural colors. The soaring and scintillating synths and the jazzy guitar solo create a magical and mysterious atmosphere, seductive but sinister (and increasingly disturbing) Meanwhile, the vocals scream in pain and the drums hammer the pulse of the music and lead us on ambling forays among the neon-lit concrete canyons while the city sleeps. A completely captivating experience….
Dreams Of Fragmentation will be released on March 11th by Debemur Morti Productions.
Just a few days ago this band from Aarhus released a single named “Awake in the Macrochasm“. I hope you’ll understand why I thought it made a good follow-on to the preceding song.
The riffing generates a dissonant and unnerving sound as the bass hums and the drums pump like pistons, but those sensations don’t sound like features of the natural world, but more like a sonic hallucination. The pinging keyboards that come and go seem futuristic; the vocals are unhinged in their roaring and shrieking bestiality; even the first scratchy guitar solo seems like an alien apparition.
Eventually the rhythm changes and the vocals become mad yells, which proves to be a prelude to a sonic grand mal seizure, which in turn paves the way for a delirious extended guitar solo that completely seizes attention. The mercurial nature of the song is unrelenting as the music continues to mutate and mesmerize in head-spinning fashion.
The song will appear on a forthcoming album named Formløse Stjerner.
And now for the album I mentioned in the introduction, which marks another sharp turn in the flow of today’s compilation. It has an interesting origin story, which I’ll quote below from the album’s Bandcamp page:
Ysyry Mollvün is a conceptual project created by Zupai Ulen in 2012. In November 2015, Antonio Sanna (Downfall Of Nur) met Zupai and offered to be the producer. As time passed by, Sanna got involved in the crafting of this project, composing arrangements for acoustic guitars and native instruments such as the charango, sikus, flutes and percussions. The band’s name comes from the words “river” in the Guaraní language, indigenous people from South America (Ysyry) and “blood” in the language of Selk’nam people, the indigenous tribe from southern Argentina (Mollvün).
Ysyry Mollvün tells the story of K’aux, a being that was once a human who was educated by the Selk’nam gods to teach the tribe what was necessary to outlive in the harsh conditions of the extreme south of the world. K’aux betrayed his oath and did not pass on what he learned, and for this reason he was condemned to lie forever, neither dead nor alive, in the center of the earth.
A thousand years later Espíritu del Monte, the god who punished K’aux couldn’t understand what happened to the other deities since, except for the god of death (San la Muerte), they were no longer on this earth. All had changed, the people who lived on this earth were more, the flora and fauna that had inhabited no longer existed and everything that was for thousands of years was longer as it had been. Because of this, el Espíritu del Monte decides to wake up K’aux so that he can see with his human’s eyes what happened and what must be done so that everything goes back to what once was.
Hurried as I am, I don’t have time to do justice to the album in words. I will say that it’s an example of extremely powerful compositional dynamics. The music storms and sweeps, consuming the senses through its ravishing extravagance (and scorching the mind through intense screeching vocals), while pulling the mood through passages of tragic magnificence, wrenching sorrow, and wild exuberance. In addition, some of the songs feature brief interludes that include some of the traditional instrumentation mentioned above, as well as spoken words that seem connected to the tribes also mentioned above.
The music is usually elaborate and many-layered, which deepens its immersive impact, and the drumming is rich in its diversity. While the lofty and distressing grandeur of the music is its most dominant impression, it’s also capable of vigorously punching your pulse.
My one caveat is that the indigenous instrumental and vocal accents that seem most obviously connected to the album’s origin story are fleeting in their appearance (they’re most noticeable in the album’s spectacular closing track). That’s not to take away from the importance of what inspired the album, or how immensely impressive the music is.
Ysyry Mollvün is set for a CD and digital release by Avantgarde Music on February 11th, although it’s available to stream in full now (if you’re only interested in the digital version and you pre-order it now (as I did), you’ll get the complete download immediately).
(I had made a note to check out this album, but it took a link to it from my friend Miloš to remind me of it and to push it closer to the top of the heap.)
Tongues, eh? Now there’s a name I’ve not heard in quite some time!
Channeling your inner Obi-Wan I see.