The opening moments of Indite sound like a large electronic contraption powering up, which serves as a metaphor for the Portuguese trio. This is their second album, although they’ve been making music and videos for years, most notably the haunting and beautiful Fall (Black Flag). Indite is the sound of the trio lifting their music to a higher level. And while one doesn’t need videos to appreciate them, every track screams for a visual interpretation.
One of the odd joys of listening to Indite is that it seems to this reviewer like a local record. “Stazione Metafisica (A Antonioni)” contains the sound of a conductor on a train bound for Penn Station, which happens to be the line on which I commute. How pleasantly strange to hear the sound returned from the other side of the ocean! Part of the field recording seems to have been taken while riding between the cars; the squeaks of the metal wheels and jostling of the cars is crisp and precise. Haarvöl wraps these sounds in electronic textures of bubble and drone, creating a cushion around the more abrasive, un-oiled sounds.
The welding of organic and electronic continues throughout the album, as the sounds of nature, man, and studio are combined in seamless fashion, none allowed more weight than the others. Haarvöl is fascinated with the possibilities of sound, and determined to provide variety. Even an overused source – water – finds a creative niche in “Water Ordeal”, doled out in increments, often leaking from only a single speaker. The same holds true on “The Inescapable Labyrinth”, although this time the water is used even more sparingly to make room for morse code, which is later echoed by the bass.
“The Massive Downward in Greyness” contains a mastering surprise, as first the single bell tone and later the bass and electric guitars surpass the volume of all preceding sounds. With Haarvöl, it’s clear that such a thing is intentional. Why should we be surprised that a band who experiments with the horizontal would also experiment with the vertical? The “greyness” lurks in the background while its opposing force – let’s call it “the green” to honor the album color and a classic New Model Army track – attacks like a violent spring assaulting a passive winter.
The trio is not afraid to bring in other influences. For a shining minute and a quarter (6:56-8:10 of “Quaestio Tormentorum”, Haarvöl does a solid imitation of a noise/metal band, calling to mind the metal explosion in the middle of Kreng’s The Summoner. It’s as if they are saying, “We know how to do this, but we prefer to do that.” In old English, indite is “the process of composing”, while in modern English, the homonym indict is “to charge with a serious crime.” Indite (the album) is an indictment of its peers, a challenge to all purveyors of maudlin music. (Richard Allen)