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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Krafft - Decomposing

Artist: Krafft

Album: Decomposing
Label: Twilight Luggage
Genre: Industrial/Noise/Ambient/Experimental
Website: http://www.twilightluggage.com/art/krafft

God bless Dan for giving me something to review! I was getting sick of pulling obscure ideas out of my ass waiting for somebody that wanted our reviews to pop up! On top of that, my assignment involves an entire record label’s worth of stuff, so this should be exciting at the very least. What’s interesting is that Twilight Luggage is a Norwegian label, and Norway is a land I’ve always associated with black metal. It should be interesting to see if the bitter cold has treated electronic music the way it has heavy metal up there. So, I decided to pick who got to be targeted by me at random and the winner for this review was Krafft. I did a bit of research while I was waiting for the album to download, and they’ve already captivated me by being a duo consisting of the electronics madman and a female singer whose key fascination seems to be with noise. Mr. Brandal has had his hand in many projects as has Mrs. Berset, but what’s really got me intrigued is that judging by the cover art for Mr. Brandal’s other works, he has been influenced rather deeply by black metal culture in that the artwork and font styles are very similar. Enough banter, let’s dive in!

Packaging: 8/10

The album comes as a zip file with the mp3’s encoded at a variable bitrate. The included artwork is well done to say the least. It doesn’t constitute the full range of jewel case elements but does encompass a front cover and a back cover which I presume is actually a back page foldover. Either way, it’s very well done. The resolution is very high to accommodate making a printed copy for us old-fashioned types, even higher than what is considered standard with most CD pressing services, so extra kudos to them for that! The artwork itself isn’t anything that complex but is still rather elegant: simply an artistically rendered flame with boldface fonts. It’s got kind of a Bathory feel, but not quite so pretentious with the fonts. Not bad for a digital release!

Composition: 7/10

How’s this for a new niche: romantic noise. This is an interesting album to listen to in that each track is very different from the last one you heard, but certain themes keep repeating such as softer tones. The first song is an incredible array of strange noise, with samples from the singer carrying the rhythm. Once “A Magical Circle” kicks in though, then it becomes apparent just how varied this album really is. It’s got similar types of noise to the first track scattered throughout the album, but takes different methods of giving the song movement from track to track. Low-tuned rhythms, slow drumming, didgeridoo blasts, guitar drones, industrial noise, and everything in between keep the variety between songs there, and the vocalist’s voice though monotone for the most part is quite hypnotic, though the sampling of her voice gets slightly annoying due to it’s repetition. The only thing that holds the composition back is that while the concepts for each song are original and imaginative, they tend to get drawn out a little longer than their welcome.

Production: 8/10

Decomposing is a noise album, so you expect the album to be noisy, but interestingly enough what is found during quite passages is that the recordings are actually immaculately clean. It would appear that the reason for this is that the entire production was done on a laptop down to sound generation even. It’s not a bad thing in this case as the organic qualities of hardware aren’t really a necessary factor for something that’s supposed to sound this cold. The effects are very nicely done though overly digital at times. I do particular enjoy the vocalist’s reverb, though. On the subject of vocals, I wish they had done more for her voice. The compression is nice and all, but considering how much speaking is done rather than singing, a different microphone may have been in order for a lot of the tracks. It works great on One Prayer Less, in that it imparts a quiet old-school country vibe that fits very well with the acoustic instruments, but on the more electronic-sounding songs, more drastic EQ curves and a more powerful sounding mic may have been in order. All in all, it’s nicely done, though.

Artistic Merit: 9.5/10

As an artist, I have to give this duo a lot of credit: they tried an overall new idea, and it worked out very well in the end. You can hear hints of their influences here and there, but for the most part it’s all very original.

Flow: 8.5/10

Unfortunately, some of the songs do end rather abruptly. Otherwise, the songs are very cohesive. The use of similar formants of noises acts like a glue to keep the variety from being too chaotic.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

Krafft did a good job of creating something new here. Decomposing is evidence that this duo isn’t afraid to experiment. Unfortunately, the repetitiveness of most of these songs drags it down a little bit to where for me, after a few minutes a track could end, and I wouldn’t notice sometimes because I’ve completely zoned out. It’s not necessarily a bad thing though because this album is extremely relaxing.

-Jim Wicked
date 08-25-08

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