All right, Part Two of our second installment of Missed Connections, the feature where we review albums we mistakenly, regrettably missed throughout 2019. Only choice cuts here! We kept it real raw and weird for you on this one. Join our writers Eeli and Pete along with our PR pal Inter (whose musical experience reads more like a sonic abduction) as they get into some real buried gems.
If you missed Part One, then check it out. Part Three coming soon!
One of the unexpected delights of 2019 was the surge in quality glitch/experimental electronic records being released, one of the absolute highlights being Datach’i’s Bones. The record is Datach’i’s second since a ten-year hiatus from releasing records, following up 2016’s System. Both records push the boundaries of electronic music to their limits, however Bones sounds more complete and more complex than its predecessor.
The record itself is a tribute to Datach’i’s late father, who passed shortly before the album was recorded. Joseph Fraioli, the man behind the machine, was inspired by the acoustic guitar his father learnt whilst getting treatment, and he decided after his passing to take some of the sounds and run it through his custom-built Eurorack modular system, in order to use on the album.
The resulting album is, in a word, beautiful. Since the release of Bones, I have been infatuated with the way this album twists and turns through intense glitch sections, before emptying out into sonic landscapes that calm and soothe you. As you might imagine, it was a frequent audio fixture for me over the summer. Whilst my body melted in the sun, my mind melted to the amazing songs presented in Bones.
The album is a record that you can play in one hit comfortably, the tracks unique enough to stand out when due attention is paid to them, yet they flow in a way that allows you to get lost to them. Of particular interest to myself was the opening track “Akemies”, a track which brought back memories of artists like The Flashbulb and Telefon Tel Aviv, whilst introducing new methods of layering that I can imagine those artists only wish they could’ve achieved in their amazing records at the turn of the century.
In the first half of the track, the layers cascade unto one another until they reach breaking point. After petering off, you are exposed to less chaos and get to really consume each of the sounds that Datach’i has crafted with his synthesizers. As the base layers of the track emerge at the end, you get a nice fuzzy feeling hearing the track come full circle, especially the soft, warming tones I’m talking about.
Another artist I drew a lot of comparisons to was Boards of Canada. The base layer of Fraioli’s music hearkens back to the muted tones they would employ behind the percussion – spooky layers that haunt but soothe the listener. That emotionally intense layer is very present in the following two tracks of the album, with the latter “Motion In The Living Room” also taking Datach’i’s sound in a direction to which you could dance, arguably unlike the opening tracks.
Throughout the record you are surprised by the variety of soundscapes that Fraioli creates, none more so than the Tycho-esque “Antumalal” or the jarring industrial “Undimension”. These heavily contrasting songs work perfectly one after the other, and it’s clear that Datach’i wanted the latter to unsettle the listener after the very calming “Antumalal”. Another track that brings about a deep sense of foreboding is the intense “4X1”, which could easily feature in a tech noir horror film or game – that is until the end which gets very experimental.
Throughout the twelve tracks, you are left in amazement at the portfolio of sounds on display and I’m so glad I got the chance to dive even deeper into this record with the analysis written. This is one of the best electronic records of the year, crafted by someone on top of his game.
One of the most fascinating, prolific, and influential noise acts in existence to this day, Gnaw Their Tongues went very quiet this year. I know some might disagree that releasing only one album in a year would be silent at all, but also know that most can vibe with me when I say that the album in question, An eternity of suffering, an eternity of pain, didn’t get the attention nor the press it really deserved. Granted, the album is made out of ‘scraps’ that didn’t make it to a forthcoming full-length due next year, but even the leftover bits manage to comprise an unbelievably strong and coherent entity, that will make you feel utterly sick and ecstatic simultaneously.
This album most certainly isn’t easy on the eardrums. It’s a prime example of raw emotion, being hurtful and violent, making your head go to places it probably shouldn’t, inflicting sensations of inadequacy and fulfillment, emptiness and satisfaction. Being washed with paradoxical contrasts doesn’t only specify this particular release, but also defines the very essence of Gnaw Their Tongues. I’m aware that the beauty of harsh and disgusting execution evades the majority of people, which might be also why I feel a slight sting in my heart whenever I depict an album like this as ‘beautiful’ or ‘glorious’, because when digging deep into the meaning of the words, I honestly don’t think it’s actually neither.
The opening pair of songs quickly display how the album differs from the acts previous works, as the overall aesthetic is more intimate and up close than ever before. The tracks are like sculptures of noise, constantly shifting their shapes and changing their colours. The tone is still familiar, though there’s simply no sensible reason to fight staying true to your own, unique sound. “From the Bestial Shadows” and the following titular track push the atmosphere into a more disturbing level. The former rejoices in horror-inducing puddle of high-pitched screeches and low punches, and the latter feels almost like a ‘normal’ track with clear parts and patterns, only put through a highly malformed and abrasive scope.
“The Misery I Became” sprouts forth like an ominous mourning, where the vocals howl in such agony that I don’t think has been heard before, even in Gnaw Their Tongues‘ context. Throw in some weird harmonics and a very post-rocky outro section, and the track achieves new territory that feels both out of place and natural. “Thou My Annihilator” is a return into form, hailing towards the 2015’s Abyss of Longing Throats LP, in all its haunting, dread drenched cacophony. This particular state of unwellness also continues through the following track “O Lord, My Strength”. The distortion levels are pushed beyond listenable boundaries, turning the album into a crushingly overwhelming and transcendental experience. Through crackling raindrops and a longer drone section, the final opus “Last Dirge” seeps in with an unsettling ambiance. Few minutes of glitchy stereo destruction topped with a deranged speech sample unfolds into a rounded and melancholic fuzz, carrying this monumental beast of an album into its well-deserved end.
The said B-side aspect doesn’t diminish the album’s value a single bit, but makes it all the more fascinating instead. An eternity of suffering, an eternity of pain might be made up of substance that was deemed infirm and unfit at first, yet it is one of the most absorbing, voluminous, and consequential noise releases unleashed this year. It’s actually quite extraordinary, and even a tad worrying. What’s for sure, is that this album leaves a great set of expectations behind it.
Take a seat. Relax. Don’t worry, you don’t have to close your eyes, we will blindfold you anyway. Are you comfortable? Here, take those headphones and put them on. Don’t talk. Just enjoy.
What’s that? Weird sounds. Something is rotating, around my head. Maybe someone rubbing a snare head, but it sounds like my head is inside that snare. Where is this buzzing sound coming from? There are sticks moving around that snare. I’m pretty sure I’m still inside a snare drum. Ah, that’s better. At least I’m outside of that damn snare now. And wow, there are harmonies, but something is also bubbling. Sticks are moving around me. Someone cheered too soon, someone is at least partly still in that damn snare.
Can you hear that sizzling, those bubbles? What’s happening? It’s a bit frightening, but I also want to know what’s happening. The sensations of the uncertain. People say you should embrace uncertainty. I guarantee you that those people never were inside a snare. Oh, it gets more aggressive. A beat is pumping. It sounds alien, futuristic, but also very ancient, like a shamanic ritual. And there are rimclicks everywhere. Everywhere. There is something new. I know that sound. A synth bass? Is this music? Of course it’s music, there were harmonies and rhythms back then. I was a bit overwhelmed from all the moving sounds.
The tribal, ancient rhythm has ended. Now it sounds like someone put on a lowercase record. Tetsu Inoue, is that you? Wait, someone added some other elements. Sounds a bit like a Kalimba. Not sure, but it’s definitely close. Do I hear birds or glitches? Or both? Definitely still some Tetsu Inoue or Steve Roden going on, but so much more. I feel a bit lost in the soundscapes, but it’s the good kind of feeling lost. The good way of being overwhelmed. The sonic impulses are so intense that I can finally lose control. In a world where everyone wants to understand things, sometimes you should just experience, without thinking. That’s what all those sounds do to me. I’m comfortably uncomfortable.
Now it sounds more like metal. Someone brought a can, and the sticks and clicks are still there. There was something like a gong, but probably just a singing bowl. It gets louder. More sounds. I feel the frequencies in my throat. In my stomach. What’s happening and why do I want to know that? An alarm. Then water. The birds are back. There is an underlying tension. All the time. Bubbles, you’re back? Drips of water, bubbling, metal, heat, bass. Nothing. Wait, there is wood. Warmth. Life. Everything bends. The noise bends around my head. Those sounds have a tight grip on my jaw, so I wait for the uppercut, but they just want to pet me and tell me to listen closely. Black. Silence.
Welcome back. No, we didn’t drug you. That was Kilchhofer Anklin‘s album Moto Perpetuo. Don’t be scared. You will get your senses back in a minute. Why are your rubbing your jaw?