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Elmi : …From the Ground

You progress through Elmi second album like a kid in the 'haunted castle' of the funfair...



"Who will survive?" is the question you're asked on the cover of Elmi's second album. The band's obvious fondness for nickel 'n dime horror movies is all embodied in the artwork that is designed like a film poster: a zombie's hand emerging 'from the ground' tends to give a literal meaning to the above-mentioned question. In fact, a few minutes of the most droning and abstract music will let you understand that it's your own survival as a listener they're talking about. Will you go through that recording and keep all your senses intact? Terrible question, isn't it? As if, as Metal fans and Doom maniacs, you weren't already irremediably damaged.

It takes pretty much 15 minutes of layers of drone brightened up with aggressive stridency to get to a human voice inhabiting a more human soundscape; like a fragment of an old film with the cameras set up in a dusty old cabaret. Ghastly. That little scene opens the way for a heavily distorted… er… choir whose chant consists of a single note wandering on top of a loud droning hum which is interspersed with a lady's acrimonious rantings and ravings against God knows what. Ghastly and weird.

You progress through this album like a kid in the 'haunted castle' of the funfair: you don't know what to expect, but you're full of anxiety mixed with excitement. The next track 'Nyarladronetep' (yes, never at a loss for a good tongue-in-cheek pun, those drone-sters), which is the 4th, amounts to the crumbling of a gigantic pyramid which, through 20 minutes of playing time, is easily reduced to a heap of gravel. An improvised session of the most apocalyptic drones that vibrate, boil and grate your mind mercilessly. If you can't stand distortion and heavy reverberation, avoid this and run for your life.

Choir again on the next track 'Why Must I Come Back'. The band claims not to use any kind of synthetizers, so I really wonder how they create that eerie chant – with the mellotron? Or the Hammond organ they use next to the electric bass? Anyway, the result is great, it's like a congregation of monks singing the praises of old deities, or better still, the Mighty Void's praises, as that's what the bleak instrumentation refers to: nothingness, the absence of shine, of rhythm, of groove, swing, the absence of despair and of anger. This album comes to me as a celebration of sound; music, there's no question of it. Just hollow sounds carving even more hollow landscapes.

I'll skip the 6th track as it offers nothing different: a bit less ghastly and more ghostly maybe. But the last track, '121 Years', is where Elmi brutally manifest themselves as a group of real people, I mean humans; the song is a purely a cappella exercise, which means two things: firstly, that the guys have a real sense of humour since it comes after 6 instrumental tracks; secondly, that the album as a whole is indeed a work drenched in piety. Imagine a guy alone, lost in vast architecture you couldn't even guess the proportions of, shouting one undulating note, then humming another one, then gurgling a third one. Very much like the Mongolian Monks can sing. And that's about it. That's mystical I tell you.

The very last track is a bonus named 'King of Cosmos – Instrumental Version'. I don't know if there's another 'regular' version of it anywhere, and I don't know why it's presented as a bonus feature either. Anyway, this is an instrumental, mellotron-led Stoner-oriented song bearing all the 'typical' features of that type of music, I'd say. It brings a last extra human touch to the album.

All in all, either you love Drone or you have to take the warning on the cover art very seriously and wonder if you do want to survive.


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Reviewer's rating: Unrated

Information

Tracklist :
1. ...from the Ground
2. As the Astral Pilgrims Reach Their Temple, a Godlike Vision Unfolds, and Existence Unravels
3. Maciara’s Revenge
4. Nyarladronetep
5. Why Must I Come Back...
6. Unhappy Is He to Whom the Memories of Childhood Bring Only Fear and Sadness
7. 121 Years
Bonustrack
8. King of Cosmos (Instrumental Version)

Duration : approx. 75 minutes

Visit the Elmi bandpage.

Reviewed on 2012-06-30 by Bertrand Marchal
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