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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mohammad - Som Sakrifis (PAN, 2013) ****½

By Janus & Karl

J - Hey Karl, where’s my sacrificial lamb? I’m going to listen to the latest Mohammad’s record and you know that making an offering to the mighty Gods of Sound is very well-deserved in this case!

K - No more lambs left, my dear Janus! We just completely run out of sacrificial victims when you have slaughtered that chicken listening to Burzum two suns ago from now. Don’t you remember it? You have fully bloodstained my turntable!

J - This is not good…not good at all… revenge of the Gods will be great…   

Imagine a heavy storm is approaching the town you live in. The crows outside are in uproar, leaves are hurled against the windows, you close them immediately, you can see the dark wall of clouds coming closer, the trees are bent from the wind. By plain accident you are listening to Mohammad’s Som Sakrifis from your mp3 player (you ripped it from the vinyl version, or maybe you have a portable turntable). Then there is the first thunder and lightning and suddenly all the lights go out. It is an apocalyptic but also fascinating scenario.

If you research Mohammad’s new album on the net, you will trip over the following terms: drone, stygian black holes, low end of the frequency spectrum, monolithic, doom, slow-moving blocks of sound, daunting, monumental, monochromatic, glacial, darkness, trauma. All of these terms are correct, yet they do not do the music justice.

Mohammad consists of Ilios (oscillators), Coti K (contrabass) and Nikos Veliotis (cello) and the line-up and the former descriptions suggest that we deal with music at the interface of electric and acoustic classical new music and doom metal (indeed!). It is so slow that bands like Sigur Rós, Sunn O))) or Earth seem to play speed metal compared to it. Of course this massive bastard of early Black Sabbath and Morton Feldman displays elliptical and microtonal clashes which explore the dark soundscape-like shallows of drone. But there is more to this music, an almost meditative component. There are sudden abrupt stops, which confront you with unexpected silence and if you listen very closely to tracks like “Sakrifis” and “Lapli Tero” you can also recognize a ubiquitous shivering of the sounds created which make the music surprisingly fragile, an effect which is intensified by the absence of a pulse in these first two pieces. This might sound spooky but actually there is an enormous immanent beauty in all the tracks, a force which puts them close to the psychedelic compositions of La Monte Young or Indian ragas and remind us of the never forgotten Labradford. If you have the chance, take a close listen to a composition as Vildblomma, from the group’s first release Roto Vildblomma dated 2010, and imagine you’re just listening to the natural evolution of a song as Soft Return from the debut and (one of the) masterpiece Prazision LP by the American band.

Although the flipside track, Liberig Min, adds this pulse to the pure sound layers - a single forlorn note, as if a single bird in a forest was crying for help -, it does not deliver a meter (only an incongruent kind of structure).

Som Sakrifis is like a soundtrack to a dream in which you run in very slow motion through thick fog. It is the opposite of a nightmare, it is a wonderful experience - like bathing in liquid light. Play loud!

Som Sakrifis is available as a limited 140g vinyl edition, packaged in a pro-press color jacket which itself is housed in a silkscreened PVC sleeve with artwork by Kathryn Politis and Bill Kouligas, and that’s another release confirming that it’s always good to keep a watchful eye on Eli Keszler’s PAN Records.

We’re maybe focusing too much on the ageless, almost motionless and eerie component of Mohammad’s music. This record can be all but depressive and it will definitely sound great in a crypt or in a catacomb for a friendly sacrificial ceremony or during the building, block after block, of your personal pyramid.

J – Come one Karl! Can’t be like this! Can I have at least a Guinea pig, please?

K – Fine then, my bloodthirsty friend, let me grab the crossbow…*

Watch a video here:

Their stage performances, maybe for the austere turtlenecks the band wear, remind of Kraftwerk somehow.

*No animal have been injured reviewing this album. We support free-jazz and wildlife as much as wild-jazz and free life.