Music Reviews

Artist: Anenome Tube (@)
Title: Death Over China
Format: CD
Label: Topeth Prophet/Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
Death Over China is the second part of "The Suicide Series by German noise artist Anemone Tube, where he is contemplating humanity's headlong rush into extinction. As he puts it in the press release, 'Death over China' is a retaliation of nature against humankind. In the same moment it is a dedication to our untamed curiosity for the essence of death and our (inherent in our collective action) secret death wish."

Death Over China is made up of primarily untreated field recordings made during a trip to Nanjing and Shanghai in 2007, with occasional bursts of fluorescent white noise and screeching feedback. Album opener "Black Death Rise" is the most raw and unedited sounding, painting a mental scenario of a street scene in Shangai: the lull of traffic, the play of children, a police whistle. The reedy whine of small engines. The sounds are expertly manipulated in space and time, panning from left to right and back again.

The stage is set, and Anemone Tube lures you into the psychogeography of these places, getting progressively more abstract as the album goes along. There seems to be a story unfolding, a point being made, and the ghostly atmosphere is constantly evolving, textures appearing out of nowhere, new sounds emerging, then disappearing into thin air, like the tiny bit of synth on "I Shall Ever Invoke." Keeps things moving along, keeps things interesting. With a good pair of headphones and some attention, Death Over China is as engrossing as a good movie or book, creating eccentric imagery between yr ears, layers of levels of meaning, that can be re-visited again and again.

With "The Announcement (Death Over China)," the moral of the story is revealed, where an older woman's voice proclaims, "I just want to kiss life. Where there's life there's hope," over and over, with a banshee wailing in the background, before being swallowed by the crushing miasma of "The Desecration From Within," the album's apex and crowning achievement. Rusted behemonth machinery, a warning siren, transgressive poetry from a tin can, it has a basement industrial feel to it, like it was summoned to be broadcast through beefy distorted PAs. Heavy as lead, and satisfyingly gritty. Anenome Tube is clearly not foreseeing an optimistic outcome to the Industrial Revolution in China, bleak and existential and doom laden. The overall effect is more hypnotic and ghost-like than violent, however, even the power electronics have a soothing quality to them; its like walking by the waterfront in the mist.

Death Over China is Anemone Tube's first solo release since 2001, and when you look at the classy smooth paper packaging, you really get the sense that this album is something special, that a great deal of time and care has been placed in putting this album together, it is clearly a labor of passion. As a piece de resistance, Death Over China was mastered by James Plotkin, so everything is in its right place, placed just so, and sounds totally great. In about 2 years time, this will be considered a rare and precious sound-art object, so get one while you can.

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