Artist: Abstractive Noise
Title: Of The Adders Bite
Label: Abstractive Records
9th December 2013
9th December 2013
This release is described as a concept album in which the main ‘character’ a male in his normal form is trapped in a gigantic machine-world that is revealed as a woman (or a woman in the form of this machine). Where all the tracks represent a journey through this unfamiliar ‘world’. Each chapter implies the understanding of the protagonist’s journey. The first chapter is the awakening and realisation of the machine’s existence. The second chapter is the struggle for escape and the last the understanding that there is no way of doing so.
Bearing the above in mind I’m aiming to see if the music can conjure the up the feelings or visual representation of this plot to myself as the listener. So without further ado (and lacking popcorn) I’ll begin.
Chapter I: Wanderer
The first track aptly named ‘Outcast’ begins with a distorted orchestral build up fusing cellos, triangles and sparse kick drums. Cellos for me can easily bring a sense of sadness which can easily be related to an ‘outcast’ but not necessarily a ‘wanderer’. However, I find the piece quite pleasant and it fits well enough to the theme for me. The second track ‘Machine (Phase I)’ starts rather abruptly and utilises classical strings to an almost ear-piercing level with engines, slamming and whirring clock cog samples with underlining ambient atmospherics which make it almost impossible not to imagine machinery in action. Machine (Phase II) brings in the percussion and begins to pull the ambient atmospherics to the fore front dropping the samples as the horn section takes over. For me this adds to a sense of foreboding and is quite cleverly constructed However, I lost the sense of the mechanical world.
Chapter II: The Adder
The track begins with dark gloomy synths and rolling percussion before the accompanying cello and fits aptly to the title of the track ‘Trap” the enveloping sound certainly brought a sense of claustrophobia from within me (whether this is something ingrained into the psyche from film, television and theatre is another discussion). The title track (well the first movement at least) begins with soothing piano soon accompanied by a distorted and elongated classical drone which serves to confuse the senses i.e soothing piano, irritating drone but when the strings begin and even though the track never really settles I find myself beginning to enjoy the piece. This chapter finishes with the track ‘Vengeance’ where the previous theme continues but with distorted percussion and when it drops plucked strings are utilised to great effect before the strings and percussion amalgamate before tailing off again at the end.
Chapter III: Ancient Riddle
The first track is this chapter ‘Poisonous Well’ begins with chimes dropped over an ambient drone and sections of compressed drums with layers of synth sounds which add an electric guitar feel in places. This leads nicely into the 2nd movement of the title track, where we return to the melancholic cello and ambient atmospherics. The final track ‘Of Betrayed and Betrayers’ utilises orchestral bass chords and chimes which adopt a classic sense of walking or indeed wandering and searching (which I can’t help feeling would have suited the theme of the first Chapter). The notes get deeper and seem to almost overlap adding a slight intensity as strings clicks and (I’ll hazard a guess at) an elongated sousaphone are added which at first drew a feeling of anxiety but soon levels out bring a more soothing feeling achieving the sense of acceptance.
To summarise this album is cleverly constructed over a period of time and fits the theme of the proposed subject matter. Is it an album I’d return to again and again to be honest probably not? However, it was an interesting and somewhat dark journey which draws on emotions so that I felt was worth spending the time to experience.
Review by Woodzee