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Shub-Niggurath - Les morts vont vite CD (album) cover





4.08 | 159 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars After forming in 1983, bassist Alain Ballaud spent many years crafting his Paris based SHUB-NIGGURATH into a truly ugly beast that found a unique middle ground between two completely demented subgenera of progressive rock. The first would come from the rhythmic jazz-rock genre known as zeuhl developed by his fellow countryman Christian Vander in his unique musical act Magma where pulsations of sound emanate in a rather orderly fashion and create a musical backbone so to speak that extends into much larger compositional constructs. Secondly Ballaud was equally intrigued by the frightening beauty that was possible from chamber rock orchestrations from the likes of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd where freeform chamber rock elements could conspire to create soundtracks of utter gloom and doom.

While Ballaud would bring those influences to the table, keyboardist Jean-Luc Herve would bring yet another important aspect of the musical process into the picture. His direct tutelage under Gérard Grisley ushered in what is known as spectral music, which is a form of non-functional harmonic textures and exotic scales that could logically be argued were direct descendents from 20th century classical composers such as Edgar Varese, Giacinto Scelsi, Olivier Messiaen, György Ligeti, Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen. However, in the 70s what would be deemed as spectral music was intricately involved in the compositional process that dealt with the analysis of the sound with a spectograph and how the composer can manipulate the characteristics of the timbre. While predominantly utilized in the avant-garde reaches of 20th century classical music, SHUB-NIGGURATH adopted these principles in the context of progressive rock.

The band released a full-length demo in 1985 which took on all the characteristics of a bona fide album save the rather primitive production values, however the band had developed one of the scariest styles of music that was seemingly set for the soundtrack of the apocalypse, something the world hadn't experienced since Univers Zero's formidable "Heresie" which emerged the decade prior. While the self-titled demo would have to wait over twenty years for a proper remastering and re-release, SHUB-NIGGURATH which took its name from a deity in the H.P. Lovecraft crafted Cthulhu Mythos universe instead went back to the studio to nurture their musical madness in the form of their first official album LES MORTS VONT VITE (The Dead Go Soon) which follows in the footsteps of the demo (re-released as "Introduction" in 2009) and offers a darkened musical journey straight into the very infernal wastelands of hell.

LES MORTS VONT VITE is an interesting experience as it somehow eschews all categorization. While proceeding in a rather blatant rock context with a percussive drive, a bass driven groove and post-punk meets no wave sounding guitar torture, the music itself mirrors a far more avant-garde intellectualism reserved for the off-kilter offerings of 20th century classical composers. The zeuhl aspects bubble through in that they keep the pace as if they are an unheard driving force that only pierces through the darkened din as to keep the listener from spiraling into a dark and forbidding dimension where minds are completely lost and sanity is banished into unthinkable camps of incredulity, a place where sonic demons reign with impunity and hellish soundscapes tear souls apart for eternity.

While similar to the demo, LES MORTS VONT VITE is less forceful for the most part and also hosts a far superior production value. The guitar grunge and bass fueled doom fuzz is turned down and the acoustics of the instruments are allowed to be heard in full frightening form. The tinkling of minimalistic pianos haunt the soundscape as the spectral vocal hauntings of vocalist Ann Stewart provide a hypnotic wordless etherealness that keeps the musical outpouring from completely sinking into the darkened abyss. The addition of a bass trombone adds a mysterious serious of bleats and extra layer of rhythmic dysfunction that blends into a never- ending series of off-kilter counterpoints that offer various time signatures layered upon each other. While the track "Yog Sothoth" is recycled from the demo, the version here is completely different as it generates more of a surreal mood setting rather than an grinding doom.

The album consists of four lengthy tracks with the opener "Incipit Tragaedia" hovering near the sixteen minute mark. The first three tracks craftily navigate through mostly surreal soundscapes that incorporate the avant-prog and zeuhl elements and meld them with the classical infusions of the avant-garde. The true bombast however is reserved for the closing "La Ballade De Lénoire" which paradoxically is no ballad at all but rather a brutal mix of thundering percussive attacks, blistering bass bantering and dissonant guitar abuse straight out of the no wave playbook of bands like DNA and Theoretical Girls. Strange microtonal melodies are generated and everything seems somewhat familiar yet slightly off center, a trait that i consider quite desirable in magnificently dramatic music such as this. The 1997 CD reissue contains two equally compelling bonus tracks: "Delear Prius" and "J'ai Vu Naguère En Peinture Les Harpies Ravissant Le Repas De Phynée" which are well worth inclusion although they are quite short in comparison. This album is the stuff nightmares are made of! Some of the most brilliant sounds ever to conspire to scare the living daylights out of you. Masterpiece!

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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