Release DetailsLABEL New Sun Recordings
RELEASED ON 2/11/2007
posted on 10/2007 By:
I’ll split this one into two for easy readin‘/skippin‘.
The “Just the Facts, Jack“ Review: Vestigial’s Aeon is a beautifully packaged dark ambient album that brings together mostly beatless industrial-tinged soundscapes, the kind of man-made EVP imitations and disembodied vocals that made the Grouper albums so much fun, and the usual off-kilter, creepy atmosphere that's what this style is all about. At times, it’s like a not-so-busy Namanax, an alien world of tape tricks (backmasking) and digital fuckery (distorted sirens and static) that’s meant to make you feel slightly uncomfortable. The irony is, as background music and as purely white noise, the way it fills the empty space is rather calming, because, underneath the ugly and the eerie lies these beautiful tones; these waves of sound that reverberate in your ears, creating the typical ambient wall o' sound effect (I guess this is relaxing because of the way it sort of mimics the noises of the womb. We should do more studies on this). Problems? Well, yeah, the big one is that it’s only four tracks, and it never pushes the boundaries of what you’d expect from a dark ambient record. You could play a Lustmord drone under some snippets of clangs and scraps from a Nurse With Wound album and end up with something similar (and probably cheaper). For what it’s worth, though, it’s nicely put together and the album art earns them major bonus points. Hardly needed in your collection, but you won’t be disappointed if you’re a fan of the stuff and you’re able to track it down.
The Self-Absorbed, “Oh, That‘s Why He Likes This Stuff Review“: When people ask me about my deep interest in noise/ambient music, I’ve always tried to offer them jokes instead of in-depth analysis (Example 1: I was listening to Aeon too loudly and my neighbor called me a tow truck. Example 2: I played this one day and gave the Maytag Man a heart attack). I love the stuff, it’s not a guilty pleasure or a passing fad in my life (Aside: When I was around ten, “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Eight Miles High” ruined me and I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to discover new noise), telling jokes is just a way to diffuse the oncoming shitstorm: the name-calling (“You’re so pretentious for liking this!”), the debate baiting (“This isn’t music!”), and the inevitable demeaning discussion on why modern art is bullshit, because, for a lot of people, modern art can be summed up by this bastardized quote from a conversation I caught a few months back:
Man: How do you know this is art?
Snobby Art Dealer: Because it was made by an artist.
And that was it. No further discussion, no trying to unveil deeper meaning or examining how this relates to our current culture/society/world. Nothing. Art is art if it’s made by an artist. Uh huh. I hate people like that. That is bullshit.
But, modern art doesn’t have to be like that. The thing is, modern art alienates people because it exists to be difficult, to fall outside easily identifiable lines, to be complex. It’s why albums like Aeon prove difficult to listen to because, and this is so cliché, it’s not something you can simplify. Vestigial is asking you to abandon preconceived notions of popular music and to listen with a different set of ears. The hooks are there, it’s just different. The melody is there, it’s just different. The reason that we might not "get" these kinds of albums is that these elements, the ones that we’re so used to just unconsciously picking up, take a conscious effort to discover. Just check out the synth line that occurs in “Last Extinction Prayer”’s second half. To me, that is catchy, it hooks me in. Doesn’t that define what a hook is? I think we tend to lose albums like Aeon by trying to tie them up with simple purty bows, trying to break up these sections and label them in specific terms and assign them specific emotions/feelings. Instead, like good art, the images they create are ambiguous and left up to interpretation. The swaths of buzz and fuzz create abstract pictures that could take on any meaning and be shaped into any metaphor. For someone who wants expressions/emotions/images that are concrete and easy to identify, the openness of the music can be super frustrating and probably why they just skip it and rip it.
But, to offset my previous point, that you have to “think” about this stuff to “enjoy it” (I admit, that reads like such cop-out crap if you boil it down to just that. Lame), if you only listen to this on the surface and you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s more than okay, in fact. That's a gut reaction, and that‘s something you can‘t change (I think you can learn to appreciate, but strong gut reactions usually close down any corridor that leads to gaining honest satisfaction from whatever is making you upchuck orginally). Some people are just born to dig this stuff, it’s the way their brains are wired. Some aren’t, and that’s perfectly acceptable. They’ll just leave it alone and move on to the next thing. If you fit into group number two though, realize that we, the people that do dig this stuff, aren't all self-absorbed knights from the kingdom of Artfaggia. We're not lying through our teeth about enjoying stuff that’s, on the surface, so at odds with accepted forms of popular music, so we can establish some kind of kooky, alternate persona that purposely clashes with the, uh, “squares, man.” Last I checked, that wasn’t me. I mean, I know how I come off on these things, how I usually become the main character, how my reviews are less about neat-o solos and more about how finding weird angles and different spins, but I don’t fit in with that snobby art dealer (as this weekend’s drunken karaoke escapades with a backing trucker choir shows). That would be basing me on one aspect of my life without digging to discover what else was there, kind of like how it would be wrong to write off Vestigial in a similar fashion. See what I did there? (I know, it was almost like a bad Dateline conclusion in its flawed logic and corniness. Work with me here).
In summation: These ideas are complex, far more complex than saying that music is music if it’s made by a musician, and far far far more complex than any of my ideas on the subject. (Aside: Want no sleep tonight? Consider why we, as metalheads, enjoy music that the masses find to be “ugly”). To bring back a point like a boomerang, some people will enjoy thinking about these ideas and some people won’t, it just depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to travel. For those that take the red pill and are dicks about it, I’ve got jokes. Lots of ’em.
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