Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Naked City - Absinthe (1993)

| Avant-Garde | Dark Ambient | Musique Concrète |
| Experimental Rock |

Naked City saved the best for last, and the darkest. After they had barrel-rolled through avant-rock, jazz, grindcore, cartoon music, contemporary classical, film music, drone doom, gritty free improvisation and much more, they decided to release their strangest album, Absinthe. A concept album about the drink of the same name, the song names reference various places, people, and things that have to do with Absinthe. I imagine the music is supposed to represent a really bad night in a dark cathedral after drinking a whole lotta Absinthe, and this cathedral is full of Hans Bellmer's deformed dolls, hiding in every corner.

Onto the music. The first track, Val de Travers, shows you exactly what Absinthe is about: it starts of with some disgustingly dissonant chords strummed on an de-tuned guitar (which appears throughout the album). Soon some strange electronic and percussive sounds come in and add to the terror. Une Corresponance is a different beast. You hear machine-like noise repeated in a pattern, with some variations. It repeats for awhile then it all stops and this high-pitched horn-like instrument comes in (not sax) and seems like the most vicious battle cry you would ever hear, it's one of the most scariest moments on the album. Again the album goes in a different direction with La Fee Verte. There is ambiance, water sounds, sampled vocal drones, strange sounds, and a melodic-in-a-darkly-dissonant-way guitar part, implying the music is all composed. All the while there's a steady beat in the distance, which sounds like somebody hitting their knees or something. Fleurs du Mal is really low, and you have to turn the volume up to hear it. This is the most genius point in the album. it's just this droning low pitch... so you turn your volume up, and finally the song is over and suddenly the next song, Artemisia Absinthium, blasts into your ears, a loud, high pitched noise, what sounds like strange insect noises and machinery. The whole song is like this, and is some of the most frightening music you will hear. Notre Dame de L'Oubli is a nice break from the rest of the album, being darkly melodic, and sounding similar to the classical pieces on Grand Guignol, just darker.

Finally we have Verlaine. Part one starts out with a repeated electronic part, with strange percussion behind it, and some neat piano that leads into THE most terror-inducing music I have ever heard: here John Zorn himself provides disturbing high pitched singing that sounds more Basilisk than human, while these female vocal samples phase in and out. The tones are so extremely dark, as the voices, that it is extremely affective, and literally makes me shiver with true fear. The song goes onto a sorta funky beat with a sorta funky bass, and completely un-funky discordant guitar strums. Part two, La Bleue, continues the ambience of Notre Dame de L'Oubli, just more dark sounding. Then, ...Rend Fou, the last moment of Naked City: six minutes of weird electronic static noise, which is actually Frisell and Frith running their guitar jacks over their guitar inputs. What a way to end Naked City.

Catalog: Avan 004 (Avant)
On Last.fm
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  1. This sounds like an interesting record. Downloading.

  2. Grr @ the fact that I can't edit these tags, nor can they be read in foobar