AMN Reviews: Nimh & Rapoon – Post-Folk Lore Vol. 1 (2020; Winter-Light)

Nimh (Giuseppe Verticchio) and Rapoon (Robin Storey) come together for the first time on this unusual ethno-ambient offering. While not exactly in line with the dark ambient sub-genre, Post-Folk Lore Vol. 1 does provide its share of darkness across four tracks, each in the 13-19 minute range.

Verticchio and Storey employ a variety of acoustic and electric instruments, including various types of woodwinds, pipes, and bells along with guitars, synths, found objects, sculpted noise, and voices. These components are distorted, looped, and otherwise manipulated. The result is a set of spacious soundscapes that are more than just layered washes. Pastoral echoing synth chords evolve to become cacophonous and menacing. Polyrhythmic beats are often subtle beneath waves of drones or fractured pieces of Middle-Eastern motifs. These pieces can be dense and information-rich as well as less demanding; but unlike much ambient, they are never relaxing. And some passages are just plain strange.

Post-Folk Lore Vol. 1 comes highly recommended for anyone looking for a suitable soundtrack to the dark times of early 2020. But even in the eventual post-pandemic era that will follow the upheaval we are experiencing today, this album will have much to offer and unpack.

Sun Ra / Marshall Allen Earth Arrival Day Celebration Today


Celebrate Sun Ra & Marshall Allen’s Earth Arrival Days

A Donation gives you access to March 4 at The Town Hall
Funds benefit AFA and the Sun Ra Arkestra


AFA is offering exclusive, temporary access to the video of The Sun Ra Arkestra directed by Marshall Allen at The Town Hall on March 4, 2020. This was the last live event AFA was able to produce before NYS shut down public gatherings. For those of you lucky enough to attend, you know what a special night that was.

The video will be available from:
Sunday, May 24, 5PM ET to Tuesday, May 26, at 11:59 PM ET.
Donate and you will be provided with the link to this historic performance.
Sun Ra arrived May 22, 1914
Marshall Allen arrived May 25, 1924

​Donations benefit Arts for Art and the Sun Ra Arkestra. Upon donating, you will receive an email with the link to enjoy the video of the Sun Ra Arkestra at The Town Hall.

Public Zoom Chat with Marshall Allen
Sunday May 24 at 6:30 PM ET
After the video premieres, we’ll be hosting a special public chat on Sunday, May 24 at 6:30 PM ET with Maestro Marshall Allen, which requires a separate registration (no donation required to participate).

AMN Reviews: Triptykon with the Metropole Orkest – Requiem (Live At Roadburn 2019) (2020; Century Media Records)

Triptykon is an unusual gothic / doom metal band that rose from the ashes of Celtic Frost, another unusual gothic / doom metal band. The latter came out with two rather unconventional albums in the mid to late 1980s. To Mega Therion featured a cover by H.R. Giger that is suitable to its bombastic riffing, horns, and timpani. Into the Pandemonium followed and was remarkably varied. It contains a version of Wall of Voodoo’s Mexican Radio, a danceable cut about the moon landing, a dark classical interlude with female vocals, and of course extreme metal stylings. Guitarist / vocalist and leader Thomas Gabriel Fischer’s growling was omnipresent, even through the more tongue-in-cheek sections. Celtic Frost changed lineups and styles, disbanded, got back together, then broke up for good. Fischer went on to form its logical successor, Triptykon. Fischer also served as a personal assistant to Giger for a number of years.

Why spend so many characters on Frost? Well, context matters. Requiem (Live At Roadburn 2019) is a 46-minute piece recorded live last year with the Metropole Orkest. The first part is Rex Irae (the classical vocal piece from Into the Pandemonium) and the last part is a similarly-themed track, Winter, from Frost’s second incarnation. The majority is a 30-minute new work, Grave Eternal. Put this together, and you have a metal quartet (guitars, bass, drums) with both male (Fischer) and female (Safa Heraghi) vocals accompanied by a full orchestra.

Orchestral/metal hybrids have had mixed results at best. What is different here is how the orchestra is integrated into both the older and the new parts from the outset. The string and brass sections accentuate the heavy riffing, while Fischer and Heraghi trade off lead and backing vocals, employing call-and-response techniques from time to time. The pace is often deliberate with droning and doomy textures, while Heraghi’s soaring leads are accompanied by sawing violins. In addition to these elements, drummer Hannes Grossmann plays slowly-evolving patterns accompanied by subtle orchestral percussion. Bassist Vanja Slajh sticks with distorted rhythms that fit together with swells of horns. There is more than a little similarity to earlier Univers Zero, though without the latter’s overt complexities. Grave Eternal ends with a return to slow riffs, chanted vocals, and a funereal march, which naturally segues into the cinematic, gloomy, and string-heavy Winter.

Perhaps what is most remarkable is how this album ties together over 30 years of compositions, from an oddball crossover classical track on an old metal album through a modern and professionally-arranged epic. Sure, in the period between then and now, other groups such as Nightwish have raised the bar for orchestral metal. But Fischer and company begin and end in a darker place, and work in a deep partnership with the Metropole Orkest to combine nostalgia with powerful emotions. Well done, all.

For a taste of Requiem, check out the official video.

Aksak Maboul’s Figures Reviewed

Source: Pitchfork.

On Figures, Belgian avant-garde fixtures Aksak Maboul offer a compelling détournement of French pop’s gender assumptions. Led by Marc Hollander, Maboul emerged in the late 1970s as both globally minded experimenters and malcontents of convention. Their innovative 1980 album Un Peu de l’Âme des Bandits begins with a song called “A Modern Lesson” in which a signature Bo Diddley rhythm—the sort of clavé beat that courses through the bubblegum sounds of the ’60s—dissolves into distorted punk guitar work and discordant samples of Un Peu’s other tracks. The rest of the album thumbs its nose at Western pop, mixing in musical traditions from cultures as varied as Turkey, Polynesia, Baka, and the Mississippi Delta.