Manuel Knapp ~ Azoth

coverAhh, what a nice, soothing release.  Little plinks and plonks and plucks, perfect for napping on a soft spring day.  Let me get my pillow.  Wait, what was that?  DID SOMEONE JUST CRASH INTO MY HOUSE?!?  What are these clouds of sonic debris?  Was that a blast site?  Did WWIII just break out?  Oh, sorry, false alarm, it’s grown peaceful again.  Going to lie down now … HEY, WHO’S SCREAMING IN MY FRONT YARD?

Azoth defies all of the rules we’ve heard since we were children: don’t stick the fork into the electrical socket, don’t put metal in the microwave, don’t talk on the phone during an electrical storm, don’t push the volumes past red.  Parts of the album sound like an insane chainsaw symphony, an air raid or a multi-rocket launch.  Yet as if to tease, micro-moments of melody are threaded throughout.  It’s as if a war between calm and anger is taking place in the mind, and anger is winning, because it’s being fed.  There’s something therapeutic about such sounds, because a human being without electronics can never be this loud or abrasive.  Want something drowned out?  Play this.

To sweeten the deal, Manuel Knapp has produced fifteen vinyl copies with original artwork, each one priced at a seemingly exorbitant $666 ~ yet remarkably, most of these have sold.  Our only quibble here (since they do seem to be popular) is the price point: not the expenditure, but the number.  This is the second time we’ve addressed the topic in the last month, but why come across as so unimaginatively evil?  Far better to stick with the more esoteric reference to “the essential agent of transformation in alchemy” ~ a reference that creates interest rather than dispassion.  After all, this album is specifically about transformation ~ of tone, of thought, of perceived limitation.  One can listen for enjoyment, for catharsis, or even for inspiration, as one begins to ask, “how far can I push _______ (fill in the blank) before it breaks?  Or will it break?”  There’s some comfort to be found in the thought that the sky may not be the limit, ironically making Azoth a soothing release after all.  (Richard Allen)

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