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Shub-Niggurath - Shub-Niggurath CD (album) cover




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siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
4 stars SHUB-NIGGURATH emerged from the fertile French underground at a time when a new chapter of progressive oriented rock had been taking on the challenge of finding its way into a new decade that wasn't so friendly to its highly innovative and experimental approach. The roots of this band emerged from another band that was known both as Apsara and Altaïs. This Paris based band was finding equal inspiration not only from their fellow progressive contemporaries Magma but also from neighboring Belgium in the terrifying chamber rock possibilities of Univers Zero. Their name is derived from one of the deities in Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft and as it turns out the perfect visual representation for the band's delving into some of the most avant-garde developments that could be classified within the greater zeuhl category.

The band was founded by Allan Ballaud sometime in 1982 or 1983 and would remain active until his untimely death from cancer in 1995. The band consisted of seven musicians in the beginning including Ballaud (bass), Franck Coulaud (drums,) Franck W. Fromy (guitars), Jean-Luc Herve (piano, organ & harmonium, Ann Stewart (vocals), Véronique Verdier (trombone) and Michel Kervinio (even more drums and percussion). This eponymously titled debut emerged initially as a demo preceding their classic album "Les Morts Vonte Vite." It emerged in 1985 as a mere cassette with a production job to match but has since been remastered and re- introduced to the band's canon in 2009 under the title INTRODUCTION. Despite the intent of a re-release there are slight differences between the original demo and the what would be called INTRODUCTION but only negligible differences well made up by the greater remastering job.

This demo is considered somewhat mandatory for SHUB-NIGGURATH fans due to the fact that the tracks never appeared on another album with the exception of the opener "Yog-Sothoth" which is a heavier and rawer version. The band's goal was obviously to create some of the darkest and most terrifying sounds ever heard. While staying within the rhythmic confines of Magma inspired zeuhl complete with the operatic vocal style of Ann Stewart, the music itself relies more on an apocalyptic "Heresie" era of Univers Zero styled chamber rock which the band pulls off effortlessly with a stellar instrumental section. One of the unique factors for SHUB-NIGGURATH was the inclusion of a bass trombone to add hitherto unthinkable bleats to their doom-laden bass fuzz and rhythmic marches into the world of dread.

This demo or INTRODUCTION is very similar to the album "Les Morts Vont Vite" as can be expected since that album continues the dynamics presented here in a more cohesively uniform fashion, however this demo provides a more intriguing experience in a frighteningly raw journey that imposes order of disparately tortured sounds through the zeuhl decree. While a rhythmic march is somewhat loosely contained, the real magic lies in the dissonant guitar squeals, the heavy bombastic outbursts and the ethereal vocal chants of Stewart. Never before has music sounded so tortured and enshrouded in darkness. Ballaud learned well from the Univers Zero playbook and upped their game exponentially.

Part of the appeal of SHUB-NIGGURATH is the fact that pianist / organist Jean-Luc Herve studied under the tutelage of 20th century classical composer Gérard Grisey who was a key figure in what was called the spectralist movement which emerged in the 70s and with the assistance of computer analysis would analyze the quality of the timbre in acoustic music derived from its synthesis, therefore a whole new method of music existing as an aesthetic rather than a distinct style emerged. While somewhat known in the avant-world of 20th century classical music, SHUB-NIGGURATH were instrumental into bringing these techniques into the greater progressive rock universe.

This debut by SHUB-NIGGURATH can really be considered a halfway point between the Kobaian zeuhl magic that Magma unleashed in the early 70s with the intricacies of chamber rock made popular by bands such as Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. While "Les Morts Vont Vite" is surely the first stop in exploring the demented and darkened world of SHUB-NIGGURATH, this debut demo turned archival is not to be missed for it is as haunting as anything you could possibly imagine with a musical backbone to match. If you seriously want some apocalyptic sounds that take you to a vast underworld of avant-extremities then don't mistake this demo for a mere weak version of the debut album. This is every bit as accomplished and worth of a prime time performance that offers tracks unavailable anywhere else.

Report this review (#2086557)
Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018 | Review Permalink
2 stars Shub Niggurath succeeded in their aim of taking the more doom-laden apocalyptic side of Zeuhl to a whole new level. While Zeuhl elements such as the operatic vocals are still present, this EP and the rest of their work sits closer to Univers Zero's style of chamber rock and eerie, dissonant and tortured sounds. None of their work is for the faint hearted, and this EP is a fairly rough early version of what the band would get up to. Unfortunately its categorically not for me, but any RIO, avant or dark Zeuhl fan should be thinking of collecting this album.
Report this review (#2675330)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2022 | Review Permalink

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