Crouton/Longbox

For an artist whose output is reaching Merzbow-like proportions the risk of running out of ideas and repeating yourself is ever lurking – not that Daniel Menche’s extremely physical music needs too much to achieve its goal, administering a powerful shock to anyone who tries to come to terms with its overcharged ritual – but Creatures Of Cadence, released to accompany Menche’s first concerts in the US Midwest, is a special treat. It’s a 500-copy limited edition (with a gorgeous artwork by Erik Stotik portraying multicoloured birds) containing four long tracks in which Oregon’s half-shaman half-metalhead master of “vehement beauty” sets about a “systematic deconstruction of drone and pulse” via percussion, cello, horns and zither (this latter a new timbre for Menche, appearing in a hit-and-strum raging raptus in one of the album’s most virulent sections). Intersecting concentric drum cycles in progressive augmentation create a backdrop of tribal rhythmic patterns, so that involuntary beat substitution (à la Reich’s Drumming) soon destabilises the listener. Upon this rough canvas Menche lays long, ill-sounding instrumental moans, the harsher the better, which, once our brains have adapted to their uneasy resonance, guide us through the urgent scorching cello drones and blasts of delirious horns. It’s like trying to swim in rapids with a hard hat on: you’re aware of the danger, but, secure in the knowledge that your head is protected, gulp down water and bash bones against the rocks as necessary acts of bodily purification. What remains graven upon the memory is the inherent force of it all; it’s another fine example of glorious sonic workout from a composer who (as his blog relates) finds inspiration by running himself to exhaustion in the forest and feeling the blood flow while he pumps iron. And he means it.

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