Music Reviews

Artist: Oublier Et Mourir/Brume (@)
Title: A Year To Live
Format: CD
Label: Silken Tofu (@)
Rated: *****
Practitioners of Zen often advise to 'die before you die'. This is the Memento Mori, the contemplation of Death and the Afterlife; it has been known to spur people into enlightenment. The pair of Oublier Et Mourir, the sparse ambient side project of Anenome Tube, and Christian Renou, appearing here as Brume, have taken up the contemplation of finality in two very distinct and interesting ways.

Oublier Et Mourir's side best sonically encapsulates the sharp lithographed artword on the cover of a decaying bouquet. OetM's four tracks sound like a tortured composer, brooding in his mahogany study. Its like the medieval fantasies of John Paul Jones in The Song Remains The Same, if the warlock were reflecting upon memory, oblivion, the cosmos and the devil all at once. 'Ocean of Melodious Songs (Tsangyang Gyatso)' is the stand-out track here, which brings to mind the cosmic reminiscences of Klaus Schulze solo output in the '70s. It stands out like a rainbow against the ink-black dark ambiance, bringing some classic Terry Riley minimalism to the proceedings, and making this record ever-so-much-more interesting than the stereotypical dark ambient record you might expect from the subject matter at hand. There's black wind to be had, for sure, 'A New Thought Is Born, Another Will Arise' and the eponymous track (Oublier Et Mourir means 'to forget and to die') conjure vast digital caverns, that make it seem as if yr floating in eternity, back to the crystaline womb from whence we originated. Its colorful imagery, and lovingly executed; OetM's sound design stands out, with all the pieces hanging in suspended perfection. He stands at the edge of oblivion, unblinking, and notates it all to see. Oublier Et Mourir then acts as a psychopomp to the living, describing the afterlife and all its strange angels with a rich, complex tonal pallet that is more Bach than Bastard Noise. If only every member of the underground had this dedication towards their craft!

Brume's side is a way more eclectic affair. Christian Renou seemed to focus more on the 'First Thought/Best Thought' school of Buddhism, bringing in a track called 'The Simple Way' in 5 parts that bring to mind the pop surrealism of Jim 'Foetus' Thirlwell and Stephen 'Nurse With Wound' Stapleton. Renou's been making music since 1975, and got his start with a 9-piece big band called Uria, and you can hear echoes of that in the disjointed jazz of 'pt. 2', all stark rhythms and tuba blatts that could be a remix of the 'Panic At Year Zero' soundtrack, before surprisingly breaking into an unexpected funky machine bass backed by what sounds like a pressure hose and vocal snippets. 'The Simple Way' has a dream logic all its own, it takes you for a ride, making a series of unlikely connections and correspondences utterly distinctive and alien. Renou's activity in the DIY industrial/noise/electroacoustic cassette world (over 120 releases) have made him a prankster and an experimentalist and an individual, and i, for one, feel like the electronic underground really benefits from this presence. The segues can be abrupt and bizarre, and you truly don't know what's coming, but it gets surprisingly soothing, especially after multiple listens. Both sides of this record create new sonic pathways in the brain, allowing the listener to think fresh about the way they make and hear music, which is probably the ultimate living testament to the assignment.

It takes a rare breed to stare into the void and risk that inevitable return scrutiny, and the downside of this is that most who investigate bleakness and blackness already have an inky pallette, and we, as record listeners, are subjected to millions of hours of vacuous cosmic wind dark-ambient records. It is a rare and precious combination, to have talented and adept composers and sound artists looking into the subtle hues and strata of living and dying; reflecting upon memory, thought, passions. 'A Year To Live' is a valuable addition to any late-night listening library, or for anyone who's burned a hole in their Lustmord or Black Tape For A Blue Girl records, and are looking for a different kind of melancholy.

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