Monday, June 8, 2009

Aluk Todolo-S/T (2006) & Descension (2007)



Aluk Todolo (2006)

"Holy fuck, this record is amazing! You'd never guess it, but Aluk Todolo is the occult trance rock side project of French black metallers Diamatregon. OK, maybe it doesn't seem that off the wall, Diamatregon definitely dabbled in strange rhythms and distinctly non-black metal sound forms. But this is definitely something else altogether. Ominous krautrock rhythms over Einsterzende style industrial clatter, some lost seventies psych rock holy grail channeled through modern post rock. Dreamy and dark and mesmerizing. Hypnotic guitar lines and simple shuffling rhythms that build into clattery propulsive jams, all clanging angular riffs and dense tangled drumming. VERY This Heat like, and reminiscent of the late great Laddio Bolocko. Some sort of dangerous and mysterious postrock / krautrock hybrid, lo-fi but thick and dense and amazingly heavy."- Aquarius Records (aQ)



Descension (2007)

"this trio, just guitar, bass and drums, are most definitely alchemists, working some sort of ancient magic, turning the simplest of rock band instrumentation, into something massive and mysterious, heavy and haunting, brutal and mesmerizing, repetitive and motorik. Crafting songs, that manage to be both pieces, in the classical sense, abstract and intellectual collections and arrangements of sound, subtle shadings, tonal color and timbre, harmony and dissonance, and SONGS, in the rock sense, fucking kick ass jams, that seem to go on forever, killer riffs, and relentless head nodding rhythms, like krautrock, only heavier and darker and way way blacker. Like black metal but without all the buzz and howl, stripped down to its very essence, to just mood and rhythm, ambience and propulsion.
In the review of the previous 7" we described the band's sound as: Ominous krautrock rhythms over Einsterzende style industrial clatter, some lost seventies psych rock holy grail channeled through modern post rock. Dreamy and dark and mesmerizing. Hypnotic guitar lines and simple shuffling rhythms that build into clattery propulsive jams, all clanging angular riffs and dense tangled drumming. VERY This Heat like, and reminiscent of the late great Laddio Bolocko. Some sort of dangerous and mysterious postrock / krautrock hybrid, lo-fi but thick and dense and amazingly heavy.
And the full length essentially still sounds like that, but having loosed themselves from the shackles of the way too brief 7" format, the band can take all those elements, and lay them out, an epic massive post rock, krautrock, dronerock, experimental post black metal sprawl. These are the kinds of songs and sounds that need space, and time, need to lull the listener in, to entrance, ensorcel, the rhythms are stripped down and repetitive, looped and hypnotic, simple, but surprisingly and subtly complex at the same time. It's not hard to hear other hypno rockers in Aluk Todolo's sound, Circle, Salvatore and the like, but also space rock masters of repetition, Hawkwind, The Heads, and of course krautrock legends Can and Faust. Especially Can, with their focus on the power of the rhythm, no mater how seemingly simple or plain. But more than anything, it's legendary UK experimentalists This Heat whose, haunting mysterious rhythmic influence is all over Descension.
The opening track is the heaviest, a brutal slab of in the red distorted riffage, the actual riffs barely discernible, more like a heaving mass of crumbling distortion and space rock FX, but the rhythms that frame the whole record are already in place, pounding steadily beneath the buzz and skree. A head nodding pulse underpinning the swirling distorted clouds above. A bracing and white hot burst of blackdronekrautpsych that has the speakers rattling for all of its 8+ minutes.
But that track mostly serves as an intro to the complex and moody rhythmic sprawl that makes up the other three tracks. "Burial Ground" begins with what sounds like a slowed down This Heat rhythm track synched up to the free abstract drift of legendary seventies dronepsych collective Taj Mahal Travellers. The drums unwavering, but the background constantly in flux, swaths of black buzz, brief flurries of chaotic FX, distant low end swells, haunting fragmented melodies, a gorgeous spare kraut rock jam dropped into the abyss.
"Woodchurch" is a dense wall of high end buzz, all swirling distorted hum and keening feedback, tones all tangled up, a chordal wash of tuned vacuum cleaners, a sort of Sunroof! Style urdrone, but beneath it, the simplest of bass lines, distorted and downtuned, a heartbeat like throb, only a handful of notes, just enough to tie into the even simpler drum part, just kick drum and snare, a two step tattoo, as completely mesmerizing as it us utterly simple. The background buzz, swaying and pulsing, like some massive black sea, or clouds of insects ravaging a blighted sonic landscape.
The disc closes with "Disease" which opens with an ultra heavy slide guitar, unfurling a slow motion blues riff, caked in black buzz and thick distortion, the notes left to hang, ringing out until the tones slowly transform into feedback, immediately being swallowed up by the riff right behind it. It's like Robert Johnson playing SUNNO))), and then suddenly, the sound shifts, and the band reverts to its murky trawl, a thick throbbing bass line, another Can like rhythm, guitars warm and warbly, more like a layer of wet fuzz than distinct riffing, but occasionally, bits of that opening salvo return, offering up brief blasts of speaker destroying crunch, or brief bits of grinding buzz, a sudden start that almost, but doesn't quite wake you from your soporific reverie. Near the end, the distorted slide guitar returns, and drums drop out, and the track finishes with a thick coda of pealing guitar roar and shimmering chordal drone҆
Intense and hypnotic and heavy and fucking genius. Ritualistic sounds, both black and brilliant, pulled from the void, a mysterious and sonic netherworld. Definite contender for record of the year. "


Um, black metal krautrock? Count me in! These are some absolutely awesome atmospheric pieces of work. Terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time, Aluk Todolo is keeping both metal and psych fresh with these records. The new album "Finsternis" just came out, look out for it! Get these, damn it!

Aluk Todolo

2 comments:

j said...

man, you were so right about this record! Jammed the s/t last night, expecting some cruddy tape-noise (which i like, granted), but the ominous pulsing just reached right out and slapped me in the face! Ferocious! Hoping to spew some appreciative ink in the near future, but thought i'd say thanks for the heads-up.

Zoltar said...

Anytime dude, I like the s/t too for how relentless Side B is. One of my favorite drumming performances ever.