Thursday, 25 October 2012

Stagnant Waters review

Originating from France and Norway, and featuring amongst their instrumentation voice, drums, electronics, clarinet, bass and guitar, inappropriately named Stagnant Waters release their self titled debut on Adversum. The band here have created one of the most explosive amalgamations of metal, doom, jazz and experimental noise to have beaten the ears in a long time.  

From the opening drumsticks and salvo of frenzied guitar and roaring vocals, the listener may believe that this will be the shape of things to come throughout the album, but how wrong would they be? In between these blast beats of brutality and hostility come passages of pastoral beauty and considerate instrumentation. A few moments later however the mood takes a turn, and short emissions of electronic dissonance disrupt the flow. It would be reductive however to describe the music on “Stagnant Waters” as cut and paste, as although each element appears disparate, each piece remains cohesive and highlights how far an artist can stretch the boundaries of acceptability.

There are some genuinely delightfully crafted sections sitting beside some rather disquieting ones, but at no time would one believe that this would be improper. Welding industrial pomp to experimental jazz to perfection on ‘Of Salt And Water’, the familiar cross pollination of styles continues to astound and mystify.  This appears most extremely on ‘Castles’ where the chord progressions are tight and complex and the electronic stuttering shoe horns into them with apparent ease. Only the desolate vocals remind the listener of the background to this music, particularly when an almost childlike piano passage begins to lend the whole episode a macabre flavour.

One could almost be forgiven for thinking they are in the middle of an album by saxophonist Evan Parker on ‘Concrete’ before the hostility begins. ‘Bandaged In Suicide Notes’, one of the shorter pieces on the album, lacking the space to expand, is a reasonably straightforward pummelling, before ‘Axolotl’ returns to severe jostling of styles...

Read the full review here

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