Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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JeFF: Torment

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Artist: JeFF (@)
Title: Torment
Format: CD
Label: Altsphere Production (@)
Distributor: Altsphere Production
Rated: *****
Maybe I've mentioned this before, but one of the most annoying tasks about doing reviews for Chain D. L. K. is gathering the essential info on the artist and label of the work I have to review. Some are very good about this, and others'¦pffft. It's usually the artists' email address that's a problem. They often leave it off the one-sheet, and sites like MySpace, Reverb Nation and Facebook are tricky about contact; you have to jump through membership hoops. Labels aren't any help either. Are artists so reclusive they don't want any contact with fans or the press? I didn't think so. Just put your damn email address on the CD or one-sheet. 'Nuff said on that.

According to the one-sheet, JeFF (from France) has more than 50 demos, remixes and collaborations since 2003. 'Torment' is JeFF's first full album release. On my first listen to this disc, it seemed plagued by a propensity for too much repetition on the main theme of each composition. The repetition comes in the form a bass line and synth counter melodies (Candlemass,' 'Funeral Day,); and chordal piano progression with some countermelody ('An Insect in the Head,' 'Psychocircle'). Over the course of time on these extended tracks ranging from over six to over 10 minutes, the CD lives up to its title- 'Torment''¦for the listener that is.

To be fair though, there are some positive aspects. 'Candlemass' has a dubby bassline with crunchy percussion with oddly intriguing synth counter-melody sounds over manipulated chanting monks and noise background. 'An Insect in the Head,' uses cymbal-heavy percussion and a cricket-synth counter melody and other more intricate synth lines as well as sax-like sounds, and moaning strings. There are breaks, but that repeated and unchanging piano note-chord progression just goes on, and on and on. 'Funeral Day' begins with some cool psych-ambience before the dubby bass appears. For those who like dub, you'll probably love this track. For me, it was kind of like later period Scorn with a more playful attitude. 'Psycedestreet' has a march cadence with a simple couple repeated notes of piano and an upward scale string progression. Even though there is plenty of repetition here, the arrangement and building is good and give a nice dramatic flair to the piece, and another string-synth counter-melody enriches it further. There is even a break with a reedy synth melody and demented piano-like countermelody where the beat changes into something I could hear Van Der Graaf Generator doing. There's more to it than that, but it seemed the most ambitious track thus far.

'Psychocircle' uses a minimal piano progression (repeated of course) and sing-song counter-melody and an adventurous drum track with some guy speaking in French intermittently. (All I could make out was when he mentioned the name John Wayne Gacy, so I guess you get the drift.) This struck me as a rather insanity-inducing piece. Last track, 'Housefly' offers a lot of heavy distortion punctuated by clashing cymbals and continues on that way for the first six minutes until a minimal mellotron string melody and minimal drums takes over for awhile. Then it's back to the distortion with some ring-mod synth and organ with drums. Eventually the distortion fades away leaving the rest with some electronic sonic effluvia. The second half of the piece wasn't bad, but the first half was a bit much to wade through.

I should mention that all tracks are rather slow-paced, giving them a labored feel. I should also mention that these pieces are SUPPOSED TO BE psychotic psychedelic instrumentals, and to that end JeFF succeeds in his intentions. However, the atmosphere JeFF is attempting to create is at the expense of the buyer/listener, and few may have the patience, fortitude and frame of mind to wade through these murky waters more than once.


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