Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Where does the listener go when musical genres feel exhausted with nothing new to explore? Few bands are tempting new territory in Metal, Rock or anything these days. Every year, there’s at least one surprise gem that comes out. An unexpected sound. Something new.
DAMA/LIBRA is the newest work from Joel RL Phelps (Downer Trio, Silkworm) and G. Stuart Dahlquist (Asva, Sunn O))), Goatsnake, and Burning Witch)
"Claw" offers an open-minded sound, closer to classical compositions than modern metal/rock. It’s stylistically far from Phelps or Dahlquist’s previous recordings and more involved in the avant-garde. This whole project is phenomenal. A sort of, demented supergroup for the North West stoner rockers. For half of the album, Phelps sounds like a psychotic minister going through some form of ‘scream’ therapy. But other times, his voice is quite beautiful and remarkably affectionate. "Remember me, remember me..." he chants. It's interesting to wonder if his lyrics are autobiographical and to what he's referring to sometimes. The motifs can be so abstract and feel spontaneously inspired vocally.
Their music flips from nightmarish to dreamscape the way Stravinsky would sound mixed into Mozart’s Symphony No. 29. It all feels like a controlled sonic dream, a soundtrack to the cloudy atmosphere of today. I love the parts that are very 'Twin Peaks', with soothing tremolo bells and airy synthesizer drones. The instrumental segments are the heaviest parts, certain tracks feel industrial, others feel dark ambient and doom-ish. But it all flows as one long piece with a hundred dynamic changes.
I think this is a great collaboration record, a unique collection of personalities working together. And I can’t tell if this was long-term written music, or in-the-studio impromptu performances, but I will say, this DAMA/LIBRA experiment works.