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All Erodes

PELAGIC Nov 05th 2012
CD
149 NOK
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Fitting nicely in with the eclectic nature of Pelagic’s output, Khoma are a band who sound quite unlike anything else on the label’s roster. Drawing comparisons with latter-day Anathema, Radiohead and Muse, their mellow, atmospheric sound may surprise those aware of the band’s history on both Black Star Foundation and Roadrunner; labels more traditionally associated with acts sitting at the metallic end of the spectrum. As an album ‘All erodes’ is something of an oddity as it gathers together a number of songs written between 2002 and 2012, pulling in songs that, for whatever reason, didn’t make it onto any of the previous three albums. This approach to the song-writing process could have resulted in an uneven flow, but the band have actually created a remarkably consistent set of songs from the source material and, as such, the band’s intention to utilise this album as a chapter-closing piece is admirably achieved. There is great variety to be found on ‘all erodes’. Opening track ‘in ruins’, with its haunting piano and gentle atmosphere would fit comfortably within the heart of Anethema’s recent output, whilst ‘just another host’ is a heavier beast that combines surging guitars with Jan Jamte’s keening vocals. There is beauty here, along with latent menace, the latter quality particularly evident on the moody ‘dead seas’ which mixes Radiohead’s musical exploration with Massive Attack’s downbeat trip-hop and Anathema’s stunning melodicism. It is not a heavy record, or at least not heavy musically, the band preferring to sculpt glimmering monuments out of shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, although it packs a powerful emotional punch that rarely misses its target. ‘Give it meaning’ builds tension with its chiming guitars and echoing, tribal percussive work, marking the track out as a sort of metallic ‘there, there’, and as the track slowly builds in volume and power it’s hard to avoid the inevitable quickening of the pulse as the music draws you in, the pay-off being the sigur-ros-esque storm of guitar noise that closes the song. Maintaining the pace after such a kaleidoscopic melt down is key, a quiet track inevitably sounding tame in comparison, and Khoma don’t disappoint, ‘death throes’ being a powerful, mid-tempo track that taps into the band’s heavier work to deliver a surging blast of heavy guitars that slowly wind down in the latter half towards the short, bruising assault of ‘winter came upon us’, which juxtaposes crushing riffs with paired-back, atmospheric verses to grand effect. ‘Armo’ is almost the opposite, its bass heavy and deeply claustrophobic sounds drawing comparisons to Sigur Ros, Radiohead (‘climbing up the walls’) and Massive Attack, although the guitar figure that gently rounds out the track offers a glimmer of light away from the swirling percussion. ‘Eyes to the sun’ is similarly hypnotic, the music muted and introverted, the sound not unlike the beautifully understated sound of Neurot artists Bee and Flower. The final track is a lengthy remix of ‘all like serpents’ (one of the stand out tracks from ‘a final storm’), and although it would normally seem odd to close an album with a remix, the ambient surge of the rhythms perfectly concludes the band’s atmospheric leanings and offers whole new pastures for the band to explore on their next outing. ‘All erodes’ is an album that takes some time to get used to. The sound is most certainly not metal, but quite what it actually can be called is harder to define. Clearly enthused by the opportunity that Pelagic offers for artists to explore their own imaginations without restraint, Khoma have offered up an album that draws from a number of avant-garde and underground acts, as well as the more mainstream sounds of acts such as Muse and Radiohead, to weave a sound that is haunting, melodic and emotive. Those seeking a metallic fix would be best advised to look elsewhere, but for those fans who have embraced the explorations of acts such as Ulver and Anathema ‘all erodes’ offers a similarly innovative approach. Awkward, and certainly an album that requires time and patience if you wish to fully appreciate its many textures, ‘all erodes’ is a beautiful piece of work that is packaged (in hand-made, silk-screened cover art) in an appropriately stunning manner. A triumph of art over commercialism, ‘all erodes’ is highly recommended.