Sunday, February 21, 2010

DANIEL MENCHE "ODRADEK" (Beta-Lactam Ring Records)

Thematically cloudy transmission from the always provocative Daniel Menche, as challenging an artist as his contemporary (and collaborator) Kevin Drumm. Menche is firmly allied to the pure noise school and his records frequently deal in massively processed percussive sounds rendered into earth-moving drones, but he's also capable of tremendous serenity and placid beauty as evidenced by more recent outings. Despite its frightening and surreal cover art this album is more along the lines of the latter style, showcasing two extended compositions that lull the listener into an extreme state of hibernation-like torpor over their near hour long runtime. The first piece is more traditional Menche fair, hitting the pavement with a thick low bass heavy drone, gradually overlayed with shredding drum sounds. It sounds like the audio remnants of stars exploding millions of miles away within the confines of giant cardboard boxes. Eventually the drums bleed out into rivulets of pure tone and join the initial drones, cresting in volume and power until their end. The second piece is the more confusing of the two. A near unchanging drone is introduced and grows in prominence over a spoken word reading of a Kafka short story in the original German. The vocals become part of the drone, delivered in an unwavering monotone, without expression or acknowledgment of the prose's intent. The recitation is quickly drowned out by the cascade of droning loveliness, or maybe, as in the first piece, everything just runs together until one aspect is indeterminate from the rest. As a whole i found this record to be incredibly narcoleptic. In spite of the intensity of the approach, Menche is still able to enthrall the listener and take them into a state of hyper-relaxation. I wish i had a better grasp of what he had hoped to achieve with the reading of the Kafka story; i really don't see how this music matches up with the tone of Kafka's work in any way. Regardless, Menche has created another impressive tower of drone to add to an ever-increasing canon of engaging works.

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