Alibi V.23 No.7 • Feb 13-19, 2014 

Sonic Reducer

The next generation of classically trained musicians is comfortable with tradition even as they fearlessly embrace the avant-garde. An example of this can be heard and seen every Sunday—right here in Burque—at Chatter. Given a global perspective, this new approach to classicism with an edge can be heard in recent recordings by composer Nils Frahm. Recognized as an up-and-coming pianist whose chops glisten memorably during performances, Frahm’s latest album finds him venturing into ambient, rock and pop tropes. Released via Erased Tapes, Spaces is a mesmerizing excursion through deeply intertwined channels of sound—alternately expansive and contained—without becoming frantic or overwrought. Frahm approached this work as an experimentalist and refers to it as a field recording, a documentation of performance; this factor adds to the compelling nature of his compositions.

When I was a stringer at the Journal in high school, the features editor got on my ass about using the word “behemoth” in a story I was writing. The dude thought it was way too heavy. I forget what word I used instead, but it turns out he was right. “Behemoth” is a massive word. And it’s a damn rocking word. And it was the obvious choice for Polish death metal rocker Adam “Nergal” Darski when coming up with a band name. Behemoth’s new smashed-up and authentically dark album, The Satanist, is the band’s definitive statement on the raging chaos of the world and the individual battle against the maelstrom. After listening to this blistering collection, it’s impossible to forget that Nergal beat leukemia in 2011. The vast rage at work here is transmitted via Darski’s disquieting vocals and frenetic guitar attacks and through a rhythm section that’s heavier than plutonium.

CYMBALS The Age of Fracture (Fat Possum)

Post-Britpop outfit CYMBALS take a noticeable turn toward synthpop on their third record, The Age of Fracture. Notably this title originates from a book about how things in the late 20th century became uncertain and unhinged. Jack Cleverly and company make use of this heavy lifting device to craft a collection of tunes that is brightly danceable yet introspective. CYMBALS embrace synthy directionality with abandon. Just a hint of Joy Division or early Cure wavers and swirls though compositions like “Erosion,” while songs like “Empty Space” have a much more urban, dance-club vibe. Either way the theme is alienation and the crumbling postmodern world, but listeners here are wryly reminded that it is perfectly fine—and perhaps even advisable—to dance into the apocalypse.