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Posts Tagged ‘Minsk’

Indulge me, folks (or don’t), but my brain, it is on a Jag.

So, I must have totally missed the boat, because all of a sudden it seems like our entirely electronic universe has become ghettoized into those things which are Safe For Work and Not Safe For Work.  Seems like probably the whole reason to invent the term was, just so we could have ourselves a nice time with all o’ these, not quite acronyms, but abbrevs: SFW, NSFW, etc.  Never mind that err’time I see ‘NSFW’ spelled out, I think I’m about to encounter some particularly risque news item out of New South Wales.

This is pretty moot for me, since I work from home most of the time, and if every now and then my web browser shows me a rhinoceros mounting another rhinoceros, or a Photoshopped image of Oprah just cussing up a goddamn storm (“Please welcome Nancy Motherfucking PeLOOOOOSI”), or my favorite William Shatner Erotic Fiction site, well, that’s my own business, innit?

Still, I think if we want to really find the culprit, we’ll have to reach a bit further back.  Say, to good ol’ Woodrow Wilson, or He Of The Fourteen Points.  You see, Woody has this ambition to start up a, not quite a Covenant, but what I suppose you could call a League Of Nations.  And this League, as it were – along with that nasty little war which preceded it (hint: folks used to call it Great) – was going to make our world Safe For Democracy.  Which presumes, of course, that the world was, at the time, Not Safe For Democracy.

Dude was, for the most part, SFW, and only pretty SFD

Two options, then: Either a) we quit with this silly SFW/NSFW classification, and instead start judging your favorite websites as to whether they Are or Are NOT Safe For Democracy (SFD/NSFD)*; or b) we sit around and wait for the inevitable failure of our very own League Of Nations to reveal the underlying bankruptcy of NSFW.  Y’know, like if Janet Jackson’s boob just up and lays itself out on computer screens all over the country, and the arbiters of Work Safety do NOT A DAMNED THING.

This nonsensical post brought to you by: too much iced coffee this morning, not quite enough sleep, and the psychedelic genius of the Harvestman/U.S. Christmas/Minsk 3-way covers album Hawkwind Triad (out this year on Neurot Recordings).

*Maybe it seems like WikiLeaks is in the back of my mind here, but I promise you it is not.  Serendipity, etc.

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Altar Of Plagues, Tides (2010)

What are the Irish always so fucked off about, I wonder?

Following fairly hotly on the heels of last year’s excellent debut album White Tomb comes this hefty (36 minutes) EP from the Irish black metal band Altar Of Plagues.  Another of the almost uniformly-excellent bands on Profound Lore’s current roster, Altar Of Plagues wields a meditative, dense fusion of elemental black metal and the drawn-out song structures of insert-your-favorite-variety-of-“post-“-influenced-metal-here.  This EP, which I seem to recall reading was written on the road (the band thanks the Roadburn Festival in the liner notes), is a nice little teaser for future efforts, and thus is not quite up to the high standard set by White Tomb, but doesn’t quite seem as though it was intended to be.  To put it another way, I think that this band’s style is generally better-suited to the album-length statement, but these two tracks certainly show no precipitous drop in quality.

Of the two lengthy songs on offer here, I think opener “Atlantic Light” comes off slightly better, in large part due to its meatier feel.  (Somewhat ironic, innit, that the track “Atlantic Light” comes off as all-around heavier than the slightly more spacious “The Weight Of All”?)  The track kicks off with a nearly depressive black metal-styled plod, which eventually locks into that stretched-out, black metal/post-rock groove the band lived in so comfortably on previous releases.  The comparison is probably a bit played-out by now, but these guys probably sound closer than anyone else to the pissed-off progeny of Wolves In The Throne Room and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.  “Atlantic Light” is also notable in the vocal department for throwing in some sludgey/noisecore-styled bellowing, which very nicely complements the more traditional post-BM rasping.  These touches, though slight, might even give the band a bit of crossover appeal to fans of the somewhat spacier cast of the sludge/doom/hardcore/post-fucking-whatever spectrum (particularly Minsk, Rosetta, or Mouth of the Architect).

“The Weight Of All” touches on a somewhat wider palette of the band’s sonic and textural repertoire, perhaps unsurprisingly given its nearly 20-minute running time.  Some of the nicest songwriting touches crop up towards the end, where the band goes from washes of ambient/noise drones, into a carefully-paced section of blasting, and then finally into a great momentum-gathering final push of double bass-led gravity.  This is a band which really takes its time developing its ideas, which may require a bit of patience from the listener, but offers a fine contrast to the current glut of tech/death blast-athons.  While we’re on the subject of blasting, the sections of blast-beating are generally few and far-between on this release, but when they crop up, especially in the penultimate  movement of “The Weight Of All,” they have a pleasantly organic, loose, and almost shambolic quality, perhaps attributable to the exceptionally rattle-y snare drum.  Where this slightly off-kilter blasting might sound sloppy if attached to your more garden-variety Satan-and-frostbitten-nipples black metal, I find it carries the the suspended, droning melody of these songs rather nicely.

The production on this EP is quite a bit muddier than on White Tomb, but for some reason it really works well with the songwriting.  The crisp, clear production of the full-length worked well for the band’s sound as well, so I don’t know if the slightly dirtier tone here works only because of the few touches of sludge vocals thrown in, or maybe just because this whole release has the feel of a really promising young band out on the road, impatient to get some new ideas thrown down to tape before the moment passes; regardless, this sounds much more live, and really puts the listener in direct conversation with the mournful hue of these patient, well-crafted songs.  All in all, though I’d much rather hear another full-length from this Irish band, these two songs whet the appetite nicely until the crepuscular, creaking world they apparently inhabit inspires them to further feats of sorrowful, avant-garde bleakness.

Overall rating: 75%, light & weight.

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