|Thoreous's last album touches faintly upon some Doom elements but works primarily with a dark Ambient/Industrial palette.|
|Even at the extremes, there are extremes.
They're the sort of hinterlands where music becomes something else: experimentation decoupled from all the normal rules of rhythm, melody, progression, instrumentation. The places where the likes of Einsturzende Neubauten 'play' their jackhammers, Black Depths Grey Waves sculpt with modulated white noise, Navicon Torture Technologies spew out endless synthesised, dehumanised screams...and where Thoreous have set out their "sci-fi torture doom" stall. The trick in negotiating those places is in determining whether being way off the end of the bell curve of normality holds any genuine artistic merit and meaning, or is, as Shakespeare put it: "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".
Thoreous certainly make every effort to enable the listener to make that decision for themselves with this lavishly-packaged disk, comprising a compilation of three conceptual and linked EPs accompanied by two booklets: one containing lyrics and artwork booklet, the other an interview with the band explaining their philosophy. Not only that, but they appear perfectly happy to discuss the subject further and welcome contact via their website.
It's probably impossible to discuss the music as presented without a little background (although, to be fair, it might well be impossible to discuss it in musical terms even then). According to the band, Thoreous serves as both an acronym (translated as "Occult Runlets' Theatrical Journey Home Escorts Unconsciousness And Suicide") and a pun (meaning "foolhardy"). The acronym, loosely, refers to the painful search for enlightenment and meaning in an absurdist universe; the pun is to show that it is not altogether without paradox or humour, not least in taking an extreme absurdist approach to demonstrate the failings of that philosophy.
The framework for 'Acroedema Syndrome Cycle' (a condition resulting in swollen, numb extremities) is an unexplained – and inexplicable – storyline based in dystopian New Babylon, perceived as a place where an underlying "code of insanity" holds sway. It is, without a doubt, and with little relenting, a bleak and deeply unsettling experience. The first of the three EPs has already been reviewed on site (Modern Prays from the Olden Babylon), and I would not argue with anything written there. The second and third parts continue in the same vein: faintly touching upon some Doom elements but primarily working with a dark Ambient/Industrial palette. Challenging simply to listen to, the dissonances, agonised vocals and layers of distorted, arhythmic instruments rarely present anything other than a quite acute sonic assault.
That, of course, is nothing new: Industrial as a genre is characteristically abrasive and provoking, often wilfully controversial and making few concessions to audience comfort. The trip is in tracing patterns in the chaos, finding the way to those dark abysses, staring into them – and being stared back at. A genuine form of enlightenment, or the random hallucinations of a sensory overload? Hard to say, and perhaps drawing any such distinction is unimportant compared to having the experience. Thoreous' particular brand of chaos is both confrontational and savage, steering towards the uttermost depths of those abysses.
So, yes: it sets out to be art expressed through sound – albeit sound that often owes little to recognisable music. In that, I feel, it succeeds: it is scripted and performed well, clearly produced and certainly creates an immensely tortured soundscape. It is also so far out in the extremes that such a depiction is one that will no doubt find very few willing listeners, and possibly even fewer for whom it will resonate.
I'd have to be honest and say it didn't particularly inspire me. Not so much because I dislike exceptionally extreme music; more because I prefer it to be colder, emptier and more open to personal interpretation – something along the ambient lines of Objekt4, First Human Ferro or Halo Manash. Those provide a more meditational, abstract frame than the direct and vicious imagery of 'Acroedema Syndrome Cycle' which, to me, is too barbed, grim and contains too strong a feeling of someone else's nightmare to encourage exploring it.
And that may be entirely the point. For the premise of the cycle to be true, it has to be almost entirely occult and inaccessible to most. To quote the band: "if anybody is of the opinion that it leaves a bad taste or that it is, actually, no real music, this perception is quite meaningful".
(With thanks to J-Cult for additional explanation: I hope my brief paraphrases have reflected them accurately).
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1. Subhuman Strategy
2. 85 487
3. Necropolis Manifestation
4. Ontology – Detox Barbican
5. Ultra Black Sun
7. Terror State Analysis In The Death Cult Industry
9. Dark Future Dystopia
Duration : Approx. 70 minutes
Visit the Thoreous bandpage.