At the crossroads between creepy and beautiful lies Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer’s Day of the Demons. The kind of music that captivates and repulses all at once, invites one to delve be drawn into a trance-like state and punishes him for doing so. It is heavy, emotionally and conceptually, well thought out and masterfully executed, sounding as improvised as it is clinical, allowed to breathe yet choked whenever both artists feel like it. An album of contrasts that attacks its listener from the get go and doesn’t let go for hours after the last drone is drawn out. In short, this is one of the most interesting albums of 2012.
The bell keeps tempo and the Sufi like chants dance around them, the drones are thick and full making sure there are no gaps in sight. Remnants of ancient cultures spring to life with “Raga de L’apres Midi Pour Aude” allowing them to exorcise their demons and in turn bringing the listeners’ own to life. It is a testament to the power of music and sound, to their abilities of dusting off old fears and bringing them front and center. In a word, scary…in two, downright terrifying!
‘Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…’
Sleep, our daily minor death. Playground to our subconscious and to many of us, the most intense time of our day. Fiction becomes reality, and with the right catalyst, monsters will creep up from under the bed and into our heads. Talking from personal experience, playing the second track “Fables From a Far Away Future” with shut eyes, full volume and a pitch black room gave me one of the most nerve wracking attempts at falling asleep. It was never to be had. I found myself recalling a similar situation while attempting the same with Bass Communion’s Ghosts on Magnetic Tape playing. On both occasions, insomnia ruled over and I was to blame. Children’s prayers disappear into an infinity of scathing drones that make way to women yelling and chatting in what can only be estimated as some North African Bedouin Arabic, then bells and more people talking; it’s intense, visual and engaging.
The question begging itself now is this: would one have expected any less from a collaboration of this stature? With Palestine’s extensive discography and seemingly endless exercises in the world of all things avant garde and Schaefer’s consistently superb output all signs pointed to a big fat NO! That said, with the fickleness of making a collaborative project sound like a melting pot of ideas rather than a cut and paste job of each artist’s input, collaborations with high prospects for success can end up failing. Thankfully, that’s far from being the case when it comes to Day of the Demons, which should stand as a landmark release in experimental music for this year and probably for some more years to follow. Let’s only hope that this is not the last time we hear from those two together. (Mohammed Ashraf)