Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Blood Rhythms - Civil War

Album: Civil War
Artist: Blood Rhythms
Catalogue no: None

  1. Closure
  2. Sick Skin
  3. Locked Away
  4. Paris Window
  5. The Face
  6. Alchemy & Grief (Parts I & II)

Yes, this is loud, experimental in the extreme, avant-garde, noise ambient, industrial, angry, anguished, atmospheric, violent, rhythmic, as well as right in your face and up close, but a close listen will reveal that there’s a lot more going on than meets the ear. Saying that it doesn’t really want to slot into any neat little pigeonholes either, preferring instead to present itself on its own merits. Blood Rhythms is led by veteran experimental musician Arvo Zylo (along with a host of collaborators) and so, armed with all sorts weird and wonderful materials, presents us with the results of this huge experiment/collaboration.

How to begin? ‘Closure’ is a big fat rasp, ripping and shimmering, a blast blaring out of some fogbound landscape, ready to rip skin. A voice and feedback presage the arrival of some demonic entity, scouring and scorching, denuding all before it. ‘Sick Skin’ is pure flesh-ripping anguish, slabs of high-pitched squeaks and resonances interspersed with microsilences, attacks that burrow deep into the brain and turn it into mush. A heavily distorted voice intrudes, exuding malice and anger, before evolving into a less wholesome rhetoric. Closing out side one (see below) is ‘Locked Away’, beginning with a lean, spare slice of death ambient (de)composed of crushing percussion and feedback, before morphing into a vast behemoth of granular noise and acidic bitterness, a kaleidoscopic vortex of bile and rancour.

Like I say, though, it’s not all noise and tortured electronics, as is testified to by ‘Paris Window’ – which begins with a mournful, and thoroughly Gallic, trumpet figure before a metallic sheet of noise, akin to a constant crash of cymbals, fades in and overwhelms like a tsunami. This is followed by ‘The Face’, a Suicide electronic rhythm accompanied by some shouty vox, leading to a free-for-all blast of a ‘chorus’ which is in turn replaced by tribal industrial drumming and what sounds like an industrial-capacity vacuum-cleaner. This track also smells of Crash Worship to this reviewer, which is no bad thing I feel.

And then we’re back to the nuclear radiation of blanket cellular implosion with ‘Alchemy & Grief Part 1’, an earth-stripping concussion wave of concentrated malignancy. ‘Alchemy & Grief Part II’ is all industrial crunch and distortion, garnished with wretched vocals and crashing metallic interjections.

When this was sent to me I had no idea what I was letting myself in for – the description in the blurb covers only part of what’s included here and, if you go to the Blood Rhythms Bandcamp page for this release it doesn’t really enlighten you much further, as it only has ‘The Face’ available to listen to at this moment. If I’d judged solely from that (which no reviewer would do anyway) I’d have missed out on all the textures and nuances that liberally spice this album. It all feels rather in the moment too, a fortunate concatenation of multiple streams of ideas and moods colliding and miraculously melding together into a seamless barrage. This caught me by surprise – it’s an album that, while it grabs you by the scruff and shakes you about, is also enterprising in that it doesn’t deny itself the chance to veer away from strict noise parameters. Give it a spin – it feel it’ll be worth a little exploration.

This will be released on September 1st in vinyl, in two editions – Opaque Red (100 copies only) and standard Black Vinyl (350 copies only). Order from here:

Psymon Marshall 2019.

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