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Lionel Marchetti, "Knud un Nom de Serpent (Le Cercle des Entrailles)"

cover imageA reissue of one of the earlier releases on the Intransitive label, this masterwork has loss none of its dark luster in the past decade.  It is a dark trip up river into a heart of darkness, with Marchetti as the local shaman and guide, alongside a broken radio that picks up random frequencies across the world and sacred magnetic tapes, presenting music across the world as a form of cultural transcendence.



Lionel Marchetti

Marchetti has discussed previously that he has always been fascinated with the concept of the medicine man, and here that is carrying over from not just concept but into execution.  The six tracks that make up this album are separated by brief segments of silence, keeping each piece as a separate journey, though linked thematically and structurally by a similar approach to the recordings.  The opening piece "Un" begins with slapping percussion, acoustic guitar, and loops of African vocals, which are musical yet have a disconnected, vaguely sinister color to them.  The vocals dominate the piece, continuing throughout its duration, sometimes augmented by other spoken voices from a megaphone off in the distance, and eventually the voice is processed and layered upon itself, cut up beyond recognition like the transition from ceremony into spiritual intervention.  All the while, subtle feedback and swells of noise slither in like sounds from beyond, never drawing attention to themselves, but never going away.

On "Trois" the journey continues with more cut up vocals, but noisy field recordings, powerline hums, overamplified radio transmissions and fragments of music from across the world appear. Enshrouding all of this is a constant sense of movement and action, heavy breathing from an unseen entity.  The fragments of pop music fade at the end, leaving only isolated voices that transition from spoken words into screams and animalistic growls, an exorcism that finally ends with just the sounds of nature: birds and crickets.

"Cinq" and "Sept" are further documentations of Marchetti’s sonic healing and ritual, the former has more "traditional" high frequency waves of tape music to go with the birds and other natural sounds, as voice enters both that and the electronic sounds become darker and more sinister.  Spoken word elements appear, though through various filters and cut up elements, ending with crackling percussion and voices.  "Sept" emphasizes the cut and paste elements of voice, cut apart into hysterical shrieks and barks, the sound of demon being exorcized from tribesmen. 

"Neuf" is one of the few somewhat lighter pieces, though it is an extreme stretch of the adjective.  The mix here is somewhat more arid, at least until the second segment where slow musical elements are violently cut with vocal blasts and screams.  The last full piece, "Onze," is the expected climactic closing.  Opening with disembodied voices and babies crying, jaw harp notes sharply contrast the tribal shrieks and cut up voices that are much more terrifying.  Throughout it stays tense and dark, the tribal screams overshadowing the surrounding music before ending with just the sound of a radio in the distance, playing a pop music from multiple continents simultaneously.

I’m very glad that Intransitive saw fit to reissue this disc, because not only is it an extremely powerful, narrative work, but it also nicely compliments the collaboration with Seijiro Murayama that the label released recently.  Although the material dates back between 1993 and 1995, it retains a dark majesty that transcends time and the physical realm into a dark mysticism that can only appear by the conjuring of Shaman Marchetti.



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Review of the Day

Hayden, "Skyscraper National Park"
Badman Recording Co.
Don't blame Canada. It just so happens they have some pretty damn fantastic songwriters. Current exhibit Hayden took the music industry by storm with his self-recorded and self-released debut 'Everything I Long For'. The storm was big enough for him to get signed to Geffen imprint Outpost. Woe to those on Outpost, though, after the Unigram merger, as the label was dissolved in the deal. Many of the artists were snatched up by other labels, but Hayden was left in the cold after the mixed-bag sophomore slump of his second CD, 'The Closer I Get'. So he hibernated. And waited. And went back to his roots, recording again in his home with some close friends. The results are this underrated album that was originally planned as a 1000 copy limited addition, but was snatched up by Badman after demand was high. Not a departure by any means, 'Skyscraper National Park' is instead signs of introspective growth as well as hope for this talented songwriter to finally get the attention he deserves. Where previous works have featured Hayden's low growl, this record has him singing quite capably, even touching Kurt Wagner territory on a few songs. The primary modus operandi hasn't changed, though. Slower, melodic folk rock songs with quirky lyrics are the order of the day, with electric guitar used as a squelch tool and noisemaker on such fare as "Dynamite Walls". And Hayden is clearly finding his voice again after almost three years away from recording. He's a little hesitant, and less than perfect vocally on these songs, but it's still refreshing compared to other home-recorded CDs being released these days. My only complaint is it's length - eleven songs at just over thirty-nine minutes is better than most, but after three years I wanted to hear more. All told, though, it's a great indication where Hayden is now, and where this wave might take him. Look for Hayden's recent live album in addition, as word is it's brilliant.



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