As frontman for Philadelphia Post-Metal act Rosetta, Mike Armine plaintively growls, sings and manipulates sound over music that sounds like Neurosis in Mono Exploding in the Sky. The band has even covered the Cure song “Homesick”. Given this knowledge, one would never believe the Ambient, Drone and Noise themes of this solo album, which is actually a remastered version of his 2007 album alongside a new recording.
The journey begins with a haunting and lovely stretch of processed strings that builds into a dense wall of sound that acts as the essence of everything. There are patiently introduced Hip Hop beats akin to the late 90′s DJ Spooky style. They act as wormholes or vestibules giving temporary solace from the intensity of the heavily drenched faux sci-fi film score.
Much of the record contains an undercurrent of buried tribal beats that softly pulse in a way not far removed from the Raster Noton label, again emitting a feeling of space travel and futurism. Influences immediately apparent are Scorn, Justin Brodrick, Alva Noto, Autechre, and the space music of Robert Rich, Vidna Obmana and Steve Roach.
As opposed to the bulk of his contemporaries, song titles like “Non-Place of the Body”, “Hegels Pattern” and “Friis Formula” intentionally reflect the themes presented in his music ( philosophy and science via supermodernity, electronics and mathematics).
These are two albums in a vacuum of dark matter, seamlessly woven together to create a moving introspective bliss. I won’t be surprised to see this on “Best of 2012″ lists.
Verse & Cleansing Undertones of Wake / Lift is out March 27 on Translation Loss Records.
ROSETTA front man MIKE ARMINE is one of the most interesting artists of the last ten years. Along with his band, he has helped make some of the most dynamic and interesting music across the spectrum of underground heavy music. His own first solo album Cleansing Undertones of Wake/Lift further defined his pivotal and visionary role in the current scene. With the release of his new opus Verse, his efforts new and old are packaged together in one unique release.
Opening with “Optical Electronics” Armine continues to deliver the stunning, mind-altering sound-scapes that are more unique than conventional songs. Of course Armine would never stoop to convention, since what he does is often evocative, high art. Synth strings and haunted voices dance on top your ears and conjure all sorts of mad ideas. That motif carries over into “Photodiode” with a shift trip-hop beat. Building a run-away train of sounds, the swirling themes run counter each other, but still works. When there is dissonance involved, it benefits the piece and doesn’t distract. “Carson’s Theorem” introduces other worldly patterns on top of what is already there. This adds a very VANGELIS (think Blade Runner), PINK FLOYD/KRAFTWERK/GODFLESH type-of-feel, making the sound feel very claustrophobic between the ears. With “Friis’ Formula” the chaos has ebbed again, except in the space under a wash of peaceful tones. Armine, like he does in his regular gig, can take you on an emotional roller-coaster without wasting time or too many notes. The ending of the track transitions from pastoral timbres to a threatening buzz like the second before the crackle of a thunder storm. “Adorno Pattern” is truly ominous and creepy. I half expected to get chloroformed, choked out and shanked while hearing this best cut of this record. I suspect when listeners hear “Hegel Pattern”, they might just freak a little. Sparse keys introduce a futurist machine like beat. The rest is sonic alchemy at its finest. Named for one of my favorite philosophers, it isn’t hard to imagine the slow boil built to a roar as the theme song for a discourse on reality. The last twenty minutes of the album are comprised of the companion tracks “The Non-Place of The Body” and “The Non-Place of Desire”. The former is a stark, cold feeling drone with some extra musical devices added for coloring. The second track ups the ante with some guitar drone like-samples and some percussive elements that has a lot in common with the better era’s of both RADIOHEAD and PSYCHIC TV at times. Brilliant. The last four tracks are the untitled and experimental works that comprised Cleansing Undertones of Wake/Lift remastered. While this album may not suited to everyone’s tastes, those that spend a little time wrapping their head around it will be glad they did. You can get the record from the Translation Loss webstore.
Keith (Keefy) Chachkes
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