Sunday, January 24, 2010
ZAIMPH "SERPENT'S BITE" (Heavy Blossom)
One of the latest entries in Marcia Bassett's ongoing exploration of purgatorical guitar drift and one of her more "meditative" sets to date. For me it's very, very hard to separate Zaimph from Skullflower and in that sense difficult to know where Matthew Bower ends and Marcia Bassett begins. A lot of the time i end up thinking of Zaimph as the more feminine version of Skullflower, the slightly more questioning side of kabbalic guitar death-vision. Both projects are out for total obliteration, both projects have a frightening obsession with arcane magicks and occult posturing and both are absolute formless destroyers, but where modern day Skullflower goes straight for the jugular all the time from the first second, Zaimph is more paced and thoughtful and all of Marcia's records have a much more mystical bent to them. Her darkness doesn't seem as pitch black as Bower's, although it's plenty bleak and horrifying on its own. Maybe a better way of putting it: Matthew Bower believes in, and maybe is, evil; Marcia Bassett believes in nothing but doesn't feel that blood sacrifice is without merit. So what's on this Zaimph record? Eight tracks of distorted drone and amplifier wheeze, along with some very ill-placed piano that only lends a sadly comic, "what the fuck was she thinking" feel to the proceedings (luckily the piano only appears in track two and then never, ever comes back). Some parts have the thickness and glacial pace of Earth while others bear more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned Skullflower, all high end feedback screams and poseur-metal wishful thinking, cloaked in webs of mystery and art-space pretense. Which isn't too say it's bad-not at all, really. Marcia is quite good at creating these darkness tours and unlike Bower she doesn't wallow there-she grabs your hand, pulls you through in a few minutes and then drops you off on a well-lit corner, maybe a bit shaken but for the most part undisturbed. This album in particular is backloaded-the last three tracks for an extended suite of sorts, more drone based than the rest of the record and much more enveloping in a dunk your head in syrup sort of way. Not the best Zaimph album, nor even a decent measure of what Marcia's capable of if we give her time to shake off Bower's spectre (and as we all know, the touch of evil runs deep and cold) but an enjoyable excursion into darker, more psychedelic territories of anti-bliss.