Saturday, July 9, 2011
mysterious black metal: mamaleek - kurdaitcha (2010) & murmuüre - murmuüre (2010)
Black metal is a genre becoming more and more crowded everyday, making the effort to find acts doing something interesting and original with the sound that much harder. Recent trends like an overt shoegaze influence were astonishing when they arrived, and have now become commonplace and BORING. The problem of searching for new sounds is compounded by the fact that trying new things is always risky, and the bands out there making genuine efforts to push black metal forward don't always succeed in making something that's actually good.
Mamaleek - The Hypocrite & The Concubine by speedglueandmusic_aw
Mamaleek - My Body Rock Long Fever by speedglueandmusic_aw
Kurdaitcha is Mamaleek's third album, but it is my first encounter with them. I first heard this album a few months ago, and have been trying and failing to put into words what it sounds like ever since. They are a pair of brothers from San Francisco, but beyond that not much is known about them. It USED to be standard practice for black metal musicians to be "mysterious" and not very press-savvy, but in recent times certain black metallers have embraced press coverage with open arms (hello LITURGY), so it's actually pretty refreshing that I'm not staring at glossy photos of these dudes while writing this. It makes it a lot easier to focus on the music, which is good since this music is AWESOME. Mamaleek's approach to black metal reminds me a lot of Lifelover or Joyless, in that they incorporate many disparate and unusual styles into an overal black metal vibe. On top of the black-metal-appropriate buzzing guitars and pounding drum machine, Mamaleek incorporate sampled pan flutes, unnerving disembodied voices and other unexpected elements. These unusual ingredients are not just garnishes on top of meat-and-potatoes black metal however, as Mamaleek's music is as much industrial, noise and shoegaze as it is black metal. I know I mentioned earlier that I thought shoegaze and black metal was a played-out combination, but it's done here in a less clumsy and more original way, so I don't feel like I'm listening to some trend-hoppers. In fact, despite the reckless mish-mash of genres happening on Kurdaitcha, the album is incredibly listenable. While it might not be sufficiently grim for black metal purists, and too harsh for those not open to metal, I imagine that there is a pretty sizable group of people like me who have been starving for something new that is as WEIRD and RAD as this record is.
Murmuüre - Amethyst by speedglueandmusic_aw
Murmuüre - Disincarnate by speedglueandmusic_aw
While Kurdaitcha is an album I've been turning over for months, attempting to unlock its secrets and mysteries, Murmuüre's debut self-titled album from last year is one that I've only recently come across (despite hearing some very high praise from the always reliable aQuarius records last year). Hailing from France, Murmuüre's approach to black metal is as bizarre, adventurous and psychedelic as Mamaleek, but the end result is very different. Murmuüre's music is more open-ended, mostly layers upon layers of thick and threatening atmosphere, only occasionally punctuated by a beat and a few howled vocals. Although not as immediately catchy as Mamaleek, Murmuüre have just as much happening on this album- it is a record both sonically busy yet also subdued. I admit that I haven't listened to too many dark ambient records, but this is probably the most appealing approach to that idea that I've come across, and I suspect I'll be continuing to find interesting and new details the more I listen to this.