Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kolmiotaajuus - Pahuuden merkki (2016)

Genre: Dark ambient
Country: Finland

From the crackling, stuttering piano loop that opens '001', Pahuuden merkki is nothing short of eerie. Kolmiotaajuus' debut feels as though it would be a fitting soundtrack for a dystopic video game; dingy corridors, the feeling of being watched and a growing sense of claustrophobia are all easily imagined from its impersonal electronic ambience, made human by the trio's compositional improvisation. '002''s combination of regular, thumping bass and synthesised choral sections alongside inconsistent computerised glitches sits the listener firmly on edge, and the last 3 minutes or so of '006' (following a significant period of silence) serves as a fittingly dissonant finale. Some lightness can be found during the first half of '003', which carries airs of (an admittedly more morose) Explosions In The Sky, and '004' and '005' lean more towards Kolmiotaajuus' sci-fi influences. However, even these have an insidious quality to them gifted through dropping velocities and ominous drones, contributing further to Pahuuden merkki's overwhelmingly macabre atmosphere.

Kolmiotaajuus made an interesting decision in the recording of the album, choosing to take the tracks from 5 different live shows played across 2015. The effect could have been one of disjointed chaos. However, Pahuuden merkki flows miraculously well as an album, the care put into post-production making itself abundantly clear as each chapter segues into one another with only the slightest skip. Their improvisational streak during these live performances is wholly beneficial. Allowing them to make impromptu decisions on what feels 'right' - a glitch there, an 'off' timing there - it makes for an unpredictable listening experience that is not only arresting first time around, but offers enough variety that repeated listening is a must to gain the full picture. The effectiveness of Pahuuden merkki may depend largely on environmental factors, and undivided concentration is a must, but given time and suitably dark, still surroundings, it's an immersive listen that rarely, if ever loses its grip. Keep an eye on that shadow.
Don't act like you're not curious.

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