WTF albums: Cornucopia, The Magus, Sphinx, Les Catacombes Mortes
Tags: jump cut, spastic, free, contemporary, chamber, lo-fi, 8-bit, herky-jerky, drone, prog, noise, diverse, electronic, junk, ambient, space, psychedelic
WTF quality: A cornucopia of weirdness served with the most peculiar array of cutlery and decorum, with sudden vector-jumps into parallel worlds
Lifespan: 2010 -
So I was in the process of listening to and reviewing Incubi's album "Les Catacombes Mortes" when suddenly the dude appears on wtfmusic and posts a new song, something assuredly from beyond this world, with a link to his new album, "Cornucopia."
So here comes your wtf quadruple shot baking chowder smocha stencil-ectomy operation with soy sauce.
I'm trying to remember when I first heard Incubi's music. I think it was several months ago, perhaps in the late Spring. It was in the beginning of July. I checked the records. I remember now our great guru onionpalac telling me that this guy says he makes music in the vein of Zorn's Naked City. Checked the email records. He specifically cited the "Absinthe" album as a major influence to the "Les Catacombes Mortes." In the last couple weeks I've re-listened to that album a couple times, forgetting that it's completely different from Incubi's more herky jerky lopsided drunken swirling dervishes of controlled chaos. I completely lost track of that side of his art and had to re-pin him in my mind as a pure noise drone artist. Y'all will have to forgive me, my mind has been a sludge of wtf and after months of not hearing from a musician, I forget wtf they are and where they come from. Apparently Mr. John Wight is from Alaska, according to his wtfmusic member profile. Fits, this music does not come from a person who is plugged in at the core of the bustle of civilization. If it did that person would have to be severely mentally disconnected from it all. I hear the powerful impression of pure raw nature in this music. It is not concrete and radio waves, it is tundra and cumulus clouds. And no, this is not ambient mood music or even remotely close, nor is it in your face piles of genres stacked up against you an a spinning dimension. It's not pistols and hookers, it's narwhal tusks and lupin spores. There is a power of beauty in the music which one should could better not dismiss as only attempts at being strangely weird fucked up man. Listen to the honesty in the music - no posing, no bullshit, no claims to any bogus grandeur or intellectualism or punk-ism or staring the gaze of the eyes into the vacuum of ego-centrism. I want to say that it is highly organic. It grows, and yes it is highly mutated as well.
Les Catacombes Mortes might be French. Maybe it means the dead catacombs? Shall I research it? Anyhow this work bears resemblance to some other wtfmusic reviewed musicians, namely Nokhoi (but less harsh), or the releases from the Ephre Imprint Label (but less ambient). Dig your ears into the eerie rumbles, the shrouded harmonies, the distant choir moaning from the treetops, the rushes of wind, the horror movie underscore atmosphere, and the buried souls. For those of you not familiar with the "Absinthe" album, it's got some of Naked City's longer tunes on it (of course they were famous for the really quick jump cut stuff), averaging about 5 minutes and much more darkly ambient than most of their extreme drug-induced rape-homicide fandangoes. Of the Incubi music on which I write, this particular album comes the closest to genre: dark ambient. But there are lots of loose hinges, breaks, and hidden trap-doors which lead me down narrow secret ways. I start to feel creepy, like some cold air is moving down my neck, or spiders are crawling somewhere around my head, but things start jumping out at me, at random intervals, startling me from chilled to chilling, chilly to chillified, snapped, cold, damp, started again, and perplexed. The atmosphere of gloomy comfort which wraps about the genre doesn't sustain. I am lost in the catacombs.
If we take a time warp back to July, when I first heard this altered beast, we come to The Magus and kind of sit at the foot of this stone megalith thing and vacantly stare upwards, in reverse, so that the top of it starts to appear first, breaking the sky. But no sooner than I am whisked away by helicopter. My former self remains there, with all of you, just kind of like peering up at this stone megalith but never looking directly. There are many faces to it, they rotate. They are all different sizes, some electric, some primarily black tar resin, others plant-like, and yeah, it's not really something we're gonna look at all at once. More like a door opens, draws our attention towards it, it sings a bit, we sit in the grass and talk about world events and history, someone farts, we laugh, a little bit of snack time, a wee bit of frolicking, ... meanwhile the helicopter has landed and I'm kicking in broken windows, throwing pebbles, noticing the far-faded graffiti. My mind wanders a bit. With my headphones on, you hear some heavily distorted object percussion sounds, on a rampage. You hear a little bit of 8-bit grooves, spun on vinyl to the jank of a busted ukelele. Someone screams, again and again, meanwhile our picnic has dispersed, we're all climbing up various small grass-covered altars and sacrimonial mounds. The sancro-sinct mood keeps us at our wits, and we notice things, like the blackbird which just swooped into a high perch of the aspen, the caterpillar wriggling through the ivy, the way the shadow of a hat stretches into a figure 8 shape, and all these things meet in the roof of the empty warehouse. We spontaneously begin dancing, then we fall lightly, and land on our knees where we trudge upon knees, shake hair, head gazing down. The helicopter is now a boat, now a three wheeled taxi cart, now a bicycle, now a log bridge. Incubi concocts the punch, he spares no details. Each batch is potent and small - jello-shot sized. All are variously colored and strong-scented. What is The Magus? Is it this thousand faced megalith? Does it thrash upon vintage stratocaster in polyrhythmic spurts? What about the tribal tiki digi-god wearing a silicon hat and zapping the bunnies, making them dance as well? Does The Magus weild it? Day-glo trousers certainly make the eyes sleepy don't they. We're going to have to head home eventually, but the journey is only just getting underway. Have I seen this face before? Maybe from another angle, at another speed of rotation. This time it is red and hot like fire. Where did you go? We were all together and carefree... ah there we are, just kind of like looking up at the blue sky, maybe it's too blue today, yeah definitely too blue, and the leaves on the trees definitely a stronger tint of green than usual. Hey I brought some mini-taikos and circuit-bent tablas, wanna drone out on irregular rhythms? This album has 46 tracks. I better not spoil it all for you. You can definitely listen to this shit and fall victim to the flange-distortion. Total running time 51:39. The artist describes it as more a series of demos than a coherent album. It's a lot like deluxe granola cyber-gorp. Anyone ever eat that stuff when you go hiking? I know there are various names for it. The base of it is raisins and peanuts, often with m&ms. One thing I really can't tell but just assume to be, is if this was made by one single person. Let us take, for example, track 29, Meccatron - I can hear maybe two tracks of junk percussion, maybe two tracks of junk guitar, some junk bass, probably a couple junk tin horn things. Anyway I'll just plainly say that this album jumps around a lot, never lands anywhere for too long, is the work of a very hyperactive short attention span, and is heavily disjointed, in need of a good oiling but we can all appreciate that rustic squeak can't we.
Put on Sphinx now and listen with your ears. Maybe you think this sounds like The Magus. I did too, for a banana split second. But it's not, man, it's Sphinx. What does Sphinx eat? Magus? Dig the cryptic mythological nonsense sounding song titles. Notice a difference in sound quality here too. Also notice a change in density. The gritty dirty deep rumbly stuff got deeper and grittier and dirtier. The mystical shamanistic free-floating space rituals got more paisley coatings and neoclassical flourish, counterpoint, retrograde inversion, a more refined sense of orchestration if you will. Oh yes, we are still trodding, clunky, trumbling, trundling, flumbling, and not exactly light on our feet, but that doesn't mean this isn't "tight," the way a squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is. Not only fast and bulbous... These are definitely controlled compositions, not flailing freely improvised romps. Again, the artist, on his blog, describes these works as a collection of separate works not intended for an album. Well screw this guy, he's written all about the works, I'm writing a review here, something from another viewpoint, go to the damn blog and read all about these works: http://incubiincubi.blogspot.com/
download his albums from there too.
Okay and now we're headed full circle to Cornucopia, a Thanksgiving Season feast of treats from nature's bounty. Have ritual sex on the altar of cornucopia. I love the album art on this one and I hope you do too. This is wtf gold right here. Incubi has found a world! Established base camp, integrated with the natives, conjured the spirits, been poisoned and purged, basically died and told the story of the impossible.
Okay I'm gonna pause now, I've been jumping around, and point out that I have been scouring incubi's blog as I write this, checking for facts and shit, and I just noticed two other albums not mentioned or linked on wtfmusic.org, one is an unfinished album which is based off of the artwork by "Nabraxis."
And the other is an electronic album, Eureka.
Yeah so Cornucopia wasn't mentioned anywhere on the blog. I'm gonna assume the guy is extremely prolific, all of this stuff having been made in this year, all of it extremely diverse, and that the new unreleased album is yet another fruit in the orchard not yet ripened, and the guy hasn't updated his blog since he suddenly found this massive cornucopia lying at his doorstep.
As for Eureka, well I'm downloading it now and will write about it shortly. Ok, unraring ... importing to itunes ... first thing I noticed is the lovely nature bird sounds and the calming ambience. I could sink into this and be at peace. I don't think this music is special taylored for wtfmusic.org, but it shows more of Incubi's diversity, another fascinating facet to unfold. I recommend this download. But I will move on back to Cornucopia, as it is this particular work that I intend to feature as the WTF spotlight of epic glory.
What I wanted to say about this, is that this plays like an album, the tracks settle into a nice narrative flow. So we got a little taste with The Magus and Sphinx, we got our dark atmosphere with Catacombes, and now we're in that distant universe of Incubi's mind. Taste the plenty. Imagine the hallucinogenic, distorting landscape, close your eyes, and open them to suddenly find yourself in a room, looking through a window at the land from another angle. Close and open again. This time in an inverted plane, where the land is behind our field of vision, in front is a view into an elliptical mirror. Stand up, turn to the side, now you find yourself in the eco-habitation, in the undergrowth. 9 tracks this time, with longer playing times, which means the music has more time to develop, achieve is space, settle into its drone, mutate accordingly, and carry us fully mind and body into its abyss. The jump cuts are still there, in full force, sometimes ripping us out of our socks and into the slushy ice, but they are contained, not overdone, and pull the tension strings of our mind just enough for us to string along without losing our balance and falling flat on our asses. Man just look at this fucking spread in front of you. Tastes you never imagined, crunchy delicious buttery textures, savory flavors, sparkling spices, and luscious delicacies. Oh shit, Uncle Jim farted again. Doesn't matter, we all laugh, smile as we point in memory of the stone megalith we once all picnicked in front of, make table percussion ragas with our silverware, speak gibberish, and throw the bones to the dog-romulus. Leave room for seconds, followed by dessert and a ritual appetizer. We drink some mystic concoction, and yes fumes are pouring forth from it. This time we gone too far. Are we at a table, or in the innards of the altered beast? Who the fuck is singing that goofy spiritualistic drawl with the fiddle faddle? Yeah we're still in low-fi DIY territory. It tells a story of pain and loss, agony, loneliness, despair, mirth, curiosity at life, fondness of the ecosystems and the microcosmos, and a will to sing, an overflowing passion for What The Fuck. See if we haven't returned to the catacombs by the last track. For a moment you will wonder if what you are hearing is the hum of your electronic devices or if the music has stopped.
Let's wash those pots and pans.