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Album Review: TBA

Friday, August 10, 2012

Album Review: Ninth Moon Black – Chronophage

Finding a moment for ourselves in this fast-paced, hectic world of ours, amidst the madcap dash to stay ahead of the game, is often pretty hard work. The demand upon us to constantly multi-task means that, when we do get that hour to rest, we owe it to ourselves to embrace it. Holding on to this thought, when we grab for a piece of music, there is something to be said for listening to leisurely, immersive pieces; songs that start with a riff or hook, gently rotate around it, repeating the soul of the track until you fully appreciate it from every angle. One band who live to create such mood music is the instrumental Oregonian outfit .

Their sophomore effort, available as a name your price download via Bandcamp, is an organic, cohesive album – a gently-burning candle that deserves your full attention. The six songs within show an honest, clear train of thought with the tracks often merging into one another; a steady recycling of patterns to form a universal mood. Most consist of a thick, treacle-like sludge, a coming-together of the black arts and the gnarled hands of doom, and all seem to be centred around the two saw-toothed waveforms of the admittedly lengthy 14-minute “Animus Lumino”. They are slow burns that build whilst displaying both verve and emotion.

One thing that will put many off is the restrictive amount of added padding that submerges large chunks of the recording. To maintain a warm, cohesive sound, local producer Billy Barnett (Yob, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies) and mix-master Billy Anderson (, , ) have deliberately kept the more fiery edges well and truly suppressed as the band keep it low and slow – an unpredictable spitting, crackling bonfire this is not. Conversely this means the smaller flickers of brilliance, the intricate layering and changes between movements, are hard to pick out and you do actually have to listen quite closely. Lose focus and you lose half the album. Sadly, it’s like this from the off too; from those generic opening heartbeat footsteps and the eerie psychedelic touches of “Renascentia”, and on into the resultant, understated pulses of “Via Dolarosa”. The crunchy bass/drum dual kicker in “Bestia Devorat Tempus”, like your alarm call, is the point where you’ll suddenly realise just how much you’ve missed so far. With “Numeratio” resorting to type with another dulled, unambitious, slowly-repeating chord structure, it could merely be seen as an alert to your next opportunity to nod off.

So, essentially, with the music smothered, the band, unlike the more effusive, groove-laden or the crisp, bright brushstrokes that , and employ, has rather neglected to demand your attention. With, what amounts to a 6-minute intro and an album that feels almost like a jam that craves the full-stop marks that lyrics so often provide, this could well be an album that ends up being played in the background whilst you flit between jobs. Having devoted so many hours to this opus, determinedly hitting the replay button, I decided that it was actually quite apt that the album should be called Chronophage, literally meaning time-eater (a term I first came across when this beast appeared a few doors down). Whether you choose to see this closing remark as a backhanded compliment or a straight-up affront may just depend on whether you prefer staring at the candle or the bonfire.

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