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1000 Funerals : Butterfly Decadence

After Ankhagram, here come 1000 Funerals to present a melodic and high-quality offering in the Shape of Despair vein.

After a promising 2005 debut in ' Portrait Of A Dream', followed by a five year hiatus, founder member Emerna (V, B, K) and new recruit Haamoon (V, G, K, D) reformed Iran's 1000 Funerals. 'Butterfly Decadence' is the first recorded work from this new line-up, released through an associate label of Russia's Satanarsa Records. As seems to be the case with a lot of recent releases from the former Eastern bloc, the CD is good value: well-presented albeit not particularly informatively and packaged, with clear, crisp mastering and production and a sharp sound.

So far, so good, then which just leaves the question of what an Iranian Funeral Doom band might actually sound like, given that it is not a nation normally associated with the genre and hence a little lacking in any stereotype or preconception. The answer, in this case, is pretty similar to a Finnish Funeral Doom band, with a fairly clear statement of that particular intent in covering a Shape Of Despair track. Having investigated some of the debut album's tracks via the internet, it seems fair to say that those earlier works were darker and more distinctively individual; presumably due to the contribution of Pixy, the other, now absent, founder.

Not, of course, that there is much wrong with sounding like Shape Of Despair, given their status in the field, and 1000 Funerals certainly present a melodic and high-quality offering in that vein. Nor with sounding a little like early Hawkwind, come to that which is what a lot of the sweeping, drawn-out, keyboard progressions call to mind, especially those with voices emulating other instruments.

'Butterfly Decadence' opens with the instrumental 'Sutured Lips', a soaringly orchestral sculpture of keyboards synthesising flute and violin over a gently repetitive percussion background. That somewhat uplifting melody swirls into the slow piano introduction to 'Of Love Then Deceit', laid down over gradually-building ambient keyboards that suddenly give way to a familiarly-chugging guitar riff and low, rasping vocals. Those are not quite a growl: more of a tunefully deep hoarseness that seems to fall somewhere between chanted and sung, and well-suited to the music. The last third of the song is a measured, funereal frame combining the two earlier styles as subtext for a bitter, spoken-word vocal, to be followed by the softly-surging keyboards and whispered words of 'Nothing Has Ever Been'. This holds a slow, ambient tempo to the end, driven by the atonal melody line of an almost-jazz piano improvisation.

The short 'Butterfly Decadence' itself is pure keyboard, ending with a spoken piece by an uncredited guest female vocalist. It is a little difficult to see the point of it, in all honesty: it appears unrelated to the preceding song, or to the subsequent riff-heavy 'Vast Infinite Beauty', which is almost as classically Finnish Funeral Doom as it gets - or would be, were it not succeeded by the closing cover of 'Night's Dew'. It is a slightly jaunty interpretation pitched in the higher registers, creating just enough difference to be worth a listen but lacking the heavier gravitas and depth of the original.

It is something of a mixed bag, all in all. None of it is unpleasant listening, although the synthesised instruments do occasionally suffer from being a little shrill, reedy and unconvincing in a way that the genuine article would not. It isn't a particularly deep, layered sound, lacking much in the way of bass which also means that for a Doom album of any sort, it seems curiously optimistic and melodic. Whether that was the intention or not is hard to tell from the material - perhaps it means the true direction of the band is yet to be fully established but may well move outside the genre altogether, into territory occupied by the likes of M83. Or perhaps it's simply that the facilities to master a truly crushing heaviness aren't readily available in Tehran. A credible album, though: not essential, but worth investigating if 'Angels Of Distress' is high on your playlists, or possibly just to show support to what is evidently a sparsely-populated part of the Iranian music scene.

Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Sutured Lips
2. Of Love Then Deceit
3. Nothing Has Ever Been
4. Butterfly Decadence
5. Vast Infinite Beauty
6. Night's Dew

Duration : Approx. 39 minutes

Visit the 1000 Funerals bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-01-16 by Mike Liassides
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