diumenge, 28 de febrer de 2010

A DEAD SPOT OF LIGHT ZINE #2

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Odi / Akollonizer split album
This split release is of a really peculiar kind. With two tracks that span over 66 minutes it is most certainly not of a common type. Just look at the track lengths: the numbers are inversed. Take a look at Akollonizer’s part: it is based on Kafka’s novel The Metamorphosis. And when you listen to the music, then a world into contrasting facets will open in front of you…

O.D.I. (Orquestracions Dissonants Internes) – Moon is Throll
(Dark ambient, noise, drone; Spain)
1 Track (CD) ----- (28:37)
http://www.myspace.com/odiritualdrone

Of the two tracks on this album this one might appeal even to ‘normal person’; someone whose focus lies on the modern chart music for instance. Compared with the Akollonizer’s performance, this one is surprisingly calm and without major disruptions of the atmosphere. Over twenty-eight minutes in length and loaded with a variety of different conceptual approaches it is one of those compositions to which it is easier to listen to than to write about; especially compared with the second part of this split.
Oh well, O.D.I.’s music can (partially?) be downloaded from the Internet Archive and when you listen to the tracks made available there, and compare it with Moon is Throll, then you will recognize some amount of resemblance.
Following this line of reason it would be possible to state that this one track seems like to be a re-arrangement of earlier works into some conceptually broader and more complex piece of art. Therefore, it is a bit challenging to follow O.D.I. over the whole length of the track, especially as no lyrics or any other kind of information, which could be used to shed some light on the band’s intentions as well as some hints on how to understand it, were provided. The hieroglyphic writings are beyond a possible deciphering, so they are of no use to me or anyone else.
Similar to the other band of this split, also (at least?) one member of the Spanish band Entropia is involved here, but in terms of the overall style no similarity can be found. Here, no grindcore
is offered, no aggressive and fast music. Rather the contrary is the case. Ambient meets drone with various additional influences would cover the basic setting. Several vocals can be found (male and female) and their style ranges from chanting over talking to whispering; some of
these even give the impression of having been played backwards while arranging the track. Together with the overall quite minimalist music, with a limited amount of layers and motives at a time, it has a touch of being ritualistic; especially when vocals appear.
Guitars, keyboards, sound samples (rain for instance) and keyboards were used in order to create the music here. Especially the first of these plays an important part in creating the ambience. They give some hints towards metal, in terms of heaviness and sound, but are played so slow that it is rather some following of chords than a ‘real’ collection of riffs; like it is common in the metal genre. Together with the samples a deep and very atmospheric scenery is created and the vocals support this to a good deal. There is no light, there is nothing cheering, there is only this extreme density with which this track starts and which never vanishes until the end is reached. I guess, would someone be able to understand Catalane – I suspect that this would be the language used here --, then this person might be able to appreciate the performance even more. Those who are unable to understand the chants and singings will be left at the door, while others take the full trip and enjoy the art.
Whether this is track good or bad is nothing you can answer easily and I also have no definite opinion on it. In case you want to give this band a try, simply search for their music at the Internet Archive and listen to some of the fragments, from the perspective that they have been re-arranged for this release, and form your own opinion. It is interesting but also quite intense art and it needs some time to be thoroughly appreciated.

Akollonizer – La transformació
(Grindcore, dark ambient, noise, drone; Spain)
1 Track (CD) ----- (37:28)
http://akollonizer.blogspot.com/

When it comes to music and literature, then bands like to stick to some famous poets and take phrases from their oeuvre to enrich the compositions with some fancy citations; brave ones like Ulver even took the challenge to record an entire album based on a writing by Blake; those who want to hear a quite extravagant interpretation of another Blake novel, might want to give Alan Ginsberg's interpretation of 'Songs of Innocence' a try.
But … what is the conceptual background of Akollonizer's part?
Kafka. Or to be more precise: The Metamorphosis.
And to answer one question right away: No, the band did not took the writings and wrote the music around it. Rather, the story was extremely reduced but by keeping the overall intact. Judging from the translation of the texts, which I can call my own, something between an interpretation and staying true to Kafka’s work seems to have been the idea behind the lyrics. One example (the language is Catalan just to make things clear); first quote.

(1)
L'orgull del pare vexat
Els somnis d'una germana
I una mare patidora
De tots ells, jo tinc cura
[…]

Here, the three characters, aside from Gregor Samsa, are presented: first the father (proud, but having been harassed), then the sister (with her dreams) and finally the mother (who suffers). Yet with the last line, his own misery is presented and it continues in the next paragraph; second quote.

(2)
Però, qui pensa en mi?
Què hi ha del meu orgull vexat?
Què hi ha del meu patiment?
I dels meus somnis?
Què hi ha dels meus somnis?

He has the same longings, he has also suffered and been harassed, but his own misery is downplayed and has no effect on the behaviour of the rest of the family; they, his feelings, are silenced and kept back. In case someone is familiar with this novel as well as with the language, then this person might find the condensed version of the complex social construct quite interesting. Hopefully, those who have never ever touched works of this writer will become a bit
curious after having listened to this long track and might want to explore his novels or fragments; attempt to dig a little bit into the strange worlds which were created by Kafka in the early 20th century.
But what about the music? You can imagine that such an attempt requires at least some amount of variation and depth in order to get it right. So, a length of 37:28 is actually necessary to give each of the segments enough room.

a - El Despertar (The Awakening)
The opening is quite slow and it reflects the mood and atmosphere everyone faces after having just woken up. Also the clean vocals sound rather like it would be necessary to use a lot of energy to utter the words or in case of thinking them, to actually form the pictures and lines of reasoning. It takes a lot of self-discipline to get this done and the accordion fits so very well to the this mood. Calmness and peacefulness is created through it and the harshness of the every day’s existence is still kept outside, is not part of this world; still so far away, too far away to actually want to bother with it.
Then a transition: a trumpet plays a melody and like the fanfares which announce Armageddon, they also introduce the first harsh segment.

b - Traïdoria (Treachery)
Everything changes here and it is important to know the novel to thoroughly understand what is going on. Four additional voices can be heard in the background and they refer to person involved in this early setting of the story; I do not speak the language and the booklet gives no indication on what is going on, so I am unable to shed light on their facet in the art. Anyway, it is the point after having awoken and Gregor Samsa is challenged to go to work; especially as the chief clerk appears enters the family’s – and therefore also in his – home.
This is the setting and the interpretation of Akollonizer is a peculiar one. First a short glance at the lyrics; quote three.

(3)
Temps son Diners / Ho tinc en
compte
Ser eficient / Ho he demostrat
Prou distraccions / Visc per vos
Prou esbarjo / Pas se que és
Disciplina!!! / Pas ho dubti
Responc per vos / Ho pot fer
Confusió / Cóm ha estat?
Decepció / No hi ha raó
Desengany / Ja hi ha prou

From the first glance it should be obvious that two separate parts seem to exist and when you listen to the music. Moreover, those who are familiar with the music of the Spanish band Entropia, will recognize the vocals.
These appear in a duet, which shows some resemblance to the ones used on their debut album Takte Mòrbid. It is a mixture of pig squeals and some sort of growls/croaking; the former first, then the latter (just a thought: the former the ‘speaking’, the latter the ‘thoughts’ of him?). When you look at the lyrics, then you will recognize the inner conflict that takes place in Gregor Samsa, especially as he is challenged to leave the bed and to prepare for work. To his family his voice is nothing but a sound from an animal, therefore the change in the style is only appropriate because an outside person would recognize it as such. Interestingly, no discussion with his father for instance takes place, so Akollonizer used the characteristic stylistic elements in order to get the setting right, while staying not too true to the story here.
Ah, some words on the music. The aforementioned reference to the grindcore band Entropia is true in this respect as well. Fast, aggressive and with a lot of blasts might cover the facets of this segment of the song in a proper way. Especially towards the end some industrial influences in form of a background texture appear and work as transition to the next part.

c - Rebuig (Rejection)
The story continues this way: Gregor Samsa is being seen by the family as well as the chief clerk and they are disgusted by his appearance. He is rejected and forced to live in his room. You can easily imagine the reaction of him and the music expresses it in a neat way:

1; from an aggressive and quite fast style it switches towards some sludgy doomy one; slow played riffs and very minimalist drums (often nothing more than cymbals) make up the music here and create a somehow depressive atmosphere; quote four.

(4)
El teu fill,
Sóc el teu fill.
Pare!!!
Per què em mires així?
Mare!!!!
Res no ha canviat
Jo, Gregor!!
El vostre fill
Us estimaré
Jo, Gregor
El vostre fill
Us vetllaré
[…]

2; something which reflects his panic reaction towards the hatred shown by the family; some wild and chaotic as well as somehow aggressive or even brutal arrangement; this part is not far away from the grindcore genre again. Unlike the other vocals in this segment, these are more hastily and wild. You can feel how the sanity drifts of into some sort of psychosis and how Gregor is more and more unable to collect his thoughts and the understand the situation he is in; quote five.

(5)
Tan sols mira'm els ulls!!!
Soc el teu fill!!!
Per què? Per què em tractes
així?
Sóc sang de la teva sang!!!!

He calms down later though and the atmosphere returns to the dark kind of rowling/murmuring with which the segment started.
And when you take a look at the lyrics, then the begging for acceptance becomes obvious. The vocals are quite accurate in expressing the right mood and tension. You can really feel how he wants them – the family -- not to reject him, still to love him, still let him be part of this household. The reference to the blood (sang) and that he had alway scared for them (Us vetllaré) emphasizes this further. The words are mostly expressed in a growling manner and you can feel how much energy it costs to express every phrase but also how difficult it is to understand anything of them; from the perspective of a neutral person.

d - Jo (I (note: not the number))
The transition between the segments would again be of the grindcore style used in Rebuig, but it progresses here intosome ritualistic/chanting like music and finally into an ambient influenced style. It is the silence before the storm,because after some minutes another blast of grindcore is unleashed and two different types of vocals (screams/growls) perform one paragraph after another; towards the end it becomes a bit more complex though.
This‘brutal’ music does not last for the entire length, but takes some sort of a break in the middle of the segment and is there replaced by some intense drone/ambient texture.
Unlike in the preceding part, here nothing of a fatalistic worldview is left anymore. The contrary is the case and Gregor screams out his willingness of live, how he has come at peace with his life and his new existence. He does not want to give up, he wants to continue his life; quote six

(6)
Sóc el nou Gregor
Sóc un ésser nou
Decidit a tot
Decidit a viure

So, for the listener it is basically some sort of a rollercoaster trip. From depression over to an ecstatic feeling in a matter of minutes.

e - Oblit (Oblivion)
Pride goes before a fall and Gregor falls… he falls deep. Kafka’s stories have a strange kind of fatalism and deadly ending for the main protagonist and with this segment such is foreshadowed. The growls appear again, but in a quite peculiar fashion: one paragraph at a time and then a strange interlude; nearly up to the end this concept is kept up. You listen intensely but you feel the inability of the person to express himself over a longer period of time. You feel how he is getting weaker and weaker, needs his pauses and breaks and become unintelligible towards the end.
Moreover, it is also necessary to point to the outré opening of Oblit: some dancing theme, which reminds me on Arabic music… (or was it Yiddish?). It is ridiculous to hear and maybe it is a reference to the family and how they are improving and getting their things – finally – right, while Gregor is suffering and dying; the roles are reversed. This is expressed through this
fragment; quote seven.

(7)
Atacat pel meu pare
Rebutjat per ma germana
Oblidat per ma mare
Què em queda?

Gregor has become more and more rejected and hated by the family.
Moreover, as his father had thrown an apple at him, he is also injured and now suffering pains from it. He is alone, forgotten, abandoned. The hopes he had just to start a new life, to escape this prison he is living in, were merely fancy dreams and had no actual basis in reality.

f - Mort (Death)
The end. The last track. The death of Gregor Samsa. You can feel it in the music. You can hear it every second. No requiem for the dying man, no cheers or praises to lighten the burden, only a dark and sinister final act in which he is has to express his feeling and torment one last time. The voice is quite low and more a growling than clear speaking and it is accompanied by minimalist keyboard motives as well as a drone texture in the background. It is up to them to set the stage and atmosphere for last words. Darkness dominates the music and in slow-motion the chords progress.
You can feel the last breathe, the final sigh and the moment the life passes out of the body; quote eight.

(8)
Destorbo a ma família
Destorbo a qui m'envolta
Però tinc clar on anar
Cal no gira volta
Tan sol una mirada de comiat
Una mirada pel record
Cal mirar endavant
Decisió pel que vull, pel que sóc
És moment de marxar
Deixar enrere el passat
És moment d'alliberar-me
No més patiment

Of the cheerful atmosphere, with which the story concludes, no word is expressed. The focus here lay on Gregor and his suffering.

On how to perceive this kind of art:
Well, it is quite a task to deal with Kafka alone and it is not important which of his works are being read, discussed or interpreted. They all are anything but normal and written in a weird and difficult style; I can give this statement as I have read most of his works and lectures on him while still being in school. Less than forty minutes and a separation into six segments provide a good framework for such an attempt and these are also not the aspects I have to complain about. What strikes me as weird and strange is the limitation of the emotions, which were expressed over the entire length of the track. It is a bit limited and the facets of the characters appear a bit distorted, if you like. I mean, would you not be able to understand the lyrics (from reading) or have a translation at hand, then you might mistake the screams in Rebuig (Rejection) for something utterly different. It is a bit trying and challenging to see the connection between the music and the vocals and how these would fit together. Yes, the background of some of the members are the grindcore genre and the music of Akollonizer has a strong tendency in this direction, but I find the overall attempt a bit too shallow and the interpretation should have been put on a broader basis in order to reflect the character and the novel appropriately.
My impression would be that it is hard to relate any kind of emotion to one of the vocal styles; if you are unaware what is currently going on So, in order to really grasp what happens on Akollonizer’s part, you need time and energy (and maybe also a translation) in order to thoroughly understand what the band wanted to express. Nevertheless, one has to praise for their attempt to deal with such a difficult topic and I am somehow delighted to see (and hear) that someone was actually willing to deal with Kafka on a music album. So, to all those who have a fancy for experimental, aggressive and extreme music this release is recommended.
It would have been really neat to have the lyrics also in English, but apparently they were written in Catalane. In a language not many are familiar with. The band might have had their reasons, but it makes it difficult to enjoy and understand their art.

Note: The translations of the titles have been provided by the person behind the label (Artilleria Pesada), whom I want to thank not only for the free release but also for sending me this information.

Review originally written by oneyoudontknow.
Released in the "a dead spot of light magazine (Number 2)
(http://www.archive.org/details/ADeadSpotOfLight...number2);
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/de/
)
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