Saturday, November 14, 2009

Atavist / Satori / Nadja - Infernal Procession... And Then Everything Dies

CD Limited to 1000 copies in a 6-panel out sized sleeve.

Perhaps being the best know of the trio of bands, Nadja leads off first with "Time is our Disease", a long track that has most of the characteristics I associate with Nadja: huge molten slabs of layered and distorted guitar dirge trundling through the space in my head and grinding down any grey matter not previously flattened by other Nadja tracks. The music can be repetitive at times yet it progresses inexorably towards some kind of climax which may or may not eventuate. Early on the singing verges on the whispery and wistful but after the halfway point the vocals acquire a more sinister, even monstrous edge. The music reacts accordingly, becoming thunderous and taking on a kind of doomed magnificence as if a flame is burning brightly and defiantly in the face of an insidious and horrible death. Not a great deal is new to me apart from the treated guitar melody that appears at the end.

Atavist's "Certitude" perhaps suffers from coming second to Nadja's thunder: Nadja can sound quite massive and this has the effect of making Atavist sounding a bit thin and tinny. But what these UK musicians lack in the thickness of the sound, they compensate by investing a lot of passion and conviction in what they do, and they prove to be no less grand and ambitious than Nadja. When Atavist let rip around the 6th minute, they are full of righteous anger and aggression with slashing guitar riffs, sharp and exacting percussion, bared fangs and unsheathed claws. This music certainly commands your attention and holds you rapt all the way in spite of the tinny nature of the production; I think this says a great deal about the care the musicians put into playing and improvising together, and into structuring the track as well. Prior planning with room for improvising make for a long piece of often exhilarating music, especially towards the end when the guitars begin to howl and you feel caught up in an all-embracing howling storm.

Satori present the dark ambient piece "Abyss", an appropriately bleak, murky soundscape with strange unseen creatures chirping indecipherable bug-noise messages. Ghostly tones fade or slide in and out of the blustery soundscape and dust storms get stirred up quite a lot. Not much actually happens during this track - the musicians tend to let the weather buffet you and no more.


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