The last time we premiered music by the Italian band Nibiru we began by observing that their music “is nearly unclassifiable”, a conclusion bolstered by the fact that their albums had elicited genre descriptions along the lines of “Ritual Psychedelic Sludge” or “Blackened Sludge & Drone”. Their list of musical influences was even more difficult to imagine being integrated into anything that made sense, and their literary and other extra-musical influences were equally varied.
On that previous occasion we premiered only an excerpt from a very long song that was one of four on their sixth album, Panspermia, though we also attempted to preview what else happened in the song as a whole. Today we’re premiering a long song in its entirety, but this time the song is also the album — a single composition, nearly an hour long, named Anamorphosis. It will be released on May 26th by Argonauta Records. It’s no easier to sum up, especially in genre terms, than anything else Nibiru have done
The band’s vocalist Ardat explains: “ANAMORPHOSIS is distressing emptiness in a dimension free of conventions, unintelligible, frightening. Silence, absolute solitude, beyond the abyss and beyond the inner self, under the night. This Nibiru‘s cathartic journey can be considered as ‘Experimental Psychedelic Ritual'”.
Argonauta offers these words about the new record:
NIBIRU’s sound is a mental, noisy and apocalyptic journey of visionary magic, elemental prophecies and esoteric superomism. Tribal percussions, evocative mantras and hypnotic drones merge into a completely new interpretation of Black and Doom Metal, while psychedelic tapestries draw a fascinating and idiosyncratic art. The shrill and inhuman voice of Ardat will drag you into a kingdom of mystical abandonment and possession. NIBIRU is indeed a ritual; a heavily deep, disturbing, wild but atmospheric ride on every level – of your soul, spirit and body.
In successful pieces of extraordinary length such as this one, it’s common to notice “movements”, or phases of ebb and flow. Without such variations it’s difficult for the composers/performers to hold a listener’s attention, much less to achieve the intended effect on mood and mind by the end. Especially if it is indeed conceived as a ritual, there must be a goal in sight (a transformative one) and a calculated immersive process for getting there.
There are ebbs and flows within Anamorphosis, periods of relative calm and relative intensity, but the word “relative” is important: Even at low ebb, the sounds aren’t conducive to easy reflection. They don’t lull the listener into a soporific state. And at high tide, the music can feel cataclysmic.
This becomes evident even in the album’s opening minutes, which reveal an odd and disturbing collage of sounds and voices, almost like field recordings of some traumatic event in a nether realm, some conjunction of agony and ecstasy, of torture and light, mediated by inhaled or imbibed psychoactive substances.
It’s a gamble to begin an album this way, to jar and unsettle a listener rather than try to set hooks that would keep us from swimming away. To be sure, there are chime-like reverberations and pings and whistling tones, as well as deep organ-like groanings and wailings, that make the experience intriguing as well as unsettling. But mainly, it’s unsettling. The deep voices don’t sound human; the pounding and crashing sounds are destructive.
All of this eventually swells to increasingly cacophonous proportions, but the rhythmic tribal beats and swelling warbling and shimmering tones do begin to feel conducive to the opening of a mind’s eye to a kind of frightening splendor. You can imagine the participants in this ritual bobbing and weaving, arms aloft and borealis-like visions emerging, brought forth around bestial chants.
(It would be fascinating to see a list of the instruments and objects used in the creation of this experience. It’s probably a very long list. It might include an array of gongs and singing bells, saxophones and xylophones, hammers and hide drums, violins and didgeridoos, organs and whistles. Who knows?)
During some of the ensuing ebbs, the music does become inviting, even if bewildering, hallowed even if slightly mad. But there’s always an edge lurking there in the more mesmerizing moments, something very menacing that will then rear its head in danger when the tide comes again, especially when the vocals transform from hideous growls to terrorizing screams. Even the occasional singing voices seem doomed.
The most extravagant upheavals happen soon after the half-hour mark, when the tribal drums become manic, when the surrounding miasmic sounds vibrate in a caustic but elevating pulse, when the harsh vocals sound completely possessed by demons. When the drums fall silent, the band create another elaborate collage of sounds, but those are unnerving and seemingly demented. The danger within the revelations is never far away.
The tide returns again, along with the drums, though they don’t kick up the listener’s pulse as before. Instead, widely spaced, they sound like the prelude to an execution. What happens around them does sound psychedelic, but the swirling sonic morass sears the senses, and the distorted vocals sound like tormented wraiths.
There’s another ebb before the end, like the electric vibrations you might hear if you stand too close to a big transformer, and another flow, like the operation of some industrial die-stamp machine operated with primeval rhythm in a paranormal dimension where the audio radiations sizzle the nerves. Finally, you bob again, mind coming un-done. The vocals sound drugged, but diabolical. As it began, the album ends with gasping.
For more info about the album, check these links: