REVIEW/RECORD CRACK: Aluk Todolo’s “Finsternis”

Image and video hosting by TinyPic If you’ve read any of my reviews over the years, you know that I love a little bit of everything, from the guilty pop pleasures to the extremes in anything and everything. Aluk Todolo is a pleasure without guilt, but definitely not pop. It is very much in the extreme department, crossing the borders of heavy metal and experimental, they might arguably be called dark or doom metal and all of that emotion comes from being instrumental explorers, as they do not deal with vocals or lyrics.

My copy of Finsternis (Public Guilt) consisted of two tracks listed as “Side A” and “Side B” so I did not know until *after* hearing and loving the album, didn’t know until just now that the album actually consists of five tracks. These German minimalists take a very atmospheric approach into creating mind numbing sounds that will not be for everyone, but once you’ve entered their realm and find a comfort zone, you will not want to leave.

Both sides of the album (I’m thinking in vinyl terms) begin with nothing but a spare beat, and that is the momentum that drives you into the core. Side A sounds as if guitarist Stantidas Riedacker and bassist, Matthieu Canaguier want to start the proceedings and aren’t quite sure how, although their instrument pacing is deliberate. I found Side B to be an incredible listen, for drummer Antoine Hadjioannou begins a rhythm that comes off like a tribal call, and soon you hear this sound that comes off like a tsunami or avalanche in slow motion. You realize it’s the guitar and bass caught up in some reverb, and the warble factor is disturbing. It builds while not quite going anywhere at the same time, and then all of a sudden the volume is at full blast and you are caught up in one of the most obnoxiously beautiful drones you have ever heard, think of the vuvuzela at the World Cup but think of it in demonic terms. It isn’t until about five minutes into the singular drone that the guitar and bass start to separate into distinctive tones, and it isn’t until the 13 minute mark of the song where there is any sense of melody. It is then that the colors start to paint a very different picture, different from the dark gray tones of the first 13 minutes, and it isn’t until the 16 minute mark that Hadjioannou stops his repetitive beat for a very brief break. At that point you’ll feel as if you’ve just lost your lifeline, you feel breathless and it’s only seconds until the music continues again. I don’t know if Side B consists of three, two, or one singular song, but for those who enjoy exploring the vivid unknowns of sound, Finsternis is a perfect listen.

(Finsterin was originally released in 2009, but is now on vinyl from Public Guilt (order link behind the vinyl icon below.)