KMRU & Aho Ssan ~ Limen

We haven’t reviewed a lot of drone over the past two years, and were wondering if the genre was dying down.  Limen restores our hope, and serves as a reminder of what great drone music sounds like.  Of course, it’s not entirely drone, as one might expect from such an diverse pairing.  KMRU started in the electronic field and ambled gracefully into ambient, while Aho Ssan traffics in violent electronics with beats.  When paired, they produce something akin to modern composition, with grand themes and a huge cinematic sound.  We’re not the first to make the Ben Frost comparison, but it’s apt; and Subtext is the perfect label for this type of production.

“Resurgence” grows and grows, shuffling, popping and flowing like magma waiting to break the surface.  Halfway through the twelve-minute track it does so with a vengeance, additional sounds flying around the sonic field like stray bits of lava and rocks shot from vents.  The subterranean rumbles are met briefly by beats in the ninth minute: delayed gratification with pent-up power.  Distortion battles with clarity.  Then the lava begins to cool, the final two minutes more ambient in design, albeit dangerous.

Next comes “Rebirth,” only half the length of its predecessor, a temporary respite from destruction, an armistice of sound.  One can hear the tensions rising, the second half more confrontational than the first.  And this leads to the longest single most people missed at Christmastime, the 21-minute “Ruined Abstractions,” whose proceeds went to London’s Hackney Migrant Centre to help those seeking refuge and asylum.  We’ll go out on a very short limb to suggest that this didn’t make the BBC radio playlist, even as a benefit.  The beauty of the track is that is sounds like its title, and as such might be the score to an immigrant’s journey, fraught with potholes and detours, mangled dreams and shattered hopes: an overload of anxieties, all descending at once.

In the seventh minute, the loudest voices recede, revealing a quieter undercurrent.  Depending on one’s vantage point, one might call this new feeling resignation or resolve.  A beat appears at 12:38, just one.  (Next beats: 15:59 and 17:35.)  The miasma continues to swirl, the drones re-advancing, growing in thickness and volume.  The drama is melded to a sense of consistency, as if the tension might be managed, the ruined abstraction salvaged, a new life built upon the ashes of the old.  As lava hardens, sometimes new islands are born.  (Richard Allen)

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