Hototogisu - Chimärendämmerung (De Stijl CD)
The Hototogisu duo of Matthew Bower (Skullflower, Sunroof!, Total et al.) and Marcia Bassett (Double Leopards, Shackamaxon, GHQ, Zaimph et al) have seen a considerable raise in profile lately...I remember back in the day (okay, it was last year) as soon as word of a new Hototogisu release got out, you immediately had to start scouring distros and firing off emails and calling in favors to try and get one. But these days I can practically get them from those BMG or Columbia Music House 10 CDs for the price of 1 deals. It's a luxury! And very much appreciated. Small print runs are fine when the band has a minimal fanbase but I wholeheartedly welcome these recent "limited"-to-1000-copies editions that've been coming around: "Snail on a Razor", "Some Blood Will Stick", "Prayer Rug Exorcism" and now "Chimärendämmerung", their third release for the De Stijl label (first two were the "Floating Japanese Oof! Gardens of the 21st Century" 3xLP and the "Cuckoo Cloudland" LP which it's safe to say you most certainly do not own). By the way I was curious and I ran the album title through the Babelfish online translator and apparently it means "Chimaerendaemmerung". Thanks, internet.
Five untitled tracks occupy the space here, clocking in at just over an hour. I'm not sure how intended it was but the album has an interesting continuity to it, in that the tracks get progessively more noisy as they wear on. The opening track is a brief 6 minute introduction and though there's an impressive amount of the kind of guitar skree you've come to expect from the group, it almost sounds like they're coasting - you'd figure they can dash off these kinds of tracks in their sleep by now...although the viola carving throughout lends an interesting air to the tune, almost developping some kind of Western feel like the last Earth record. Or maybe that's just me. In any event. The second track is the longest at 18 and a half minutes, and easily my favorite on the whole disc. You have to imagine Angus MacLise's cloud doctrines or John Cale's dream interpretations with ten billion times the visceral power and aggression and only then does it start registering - and MacLise and Cale were heavy enough to begin with. But this is like an over-the-top, totally volatile space/sound flexing that comes close to erasing minds. During the middle jam you can almost make out the early aggro riffage of Skullflower circa the 80's as what has to be Bower (though it's impossible to tell) stabs out ugly, disjointed strokes colliding directly with Bassett's redirected gamma ray yarn. You can even make out the melody that starts the song throughout the entire fifteen minutes if you hold your breath and wish hard enough, provided you don't pass out first. The penultimate cut sounds like it was an extended jam left on the editing room floor from Bower's most recent excavation under the Skullflower moniker, "Tribulations" - an almost overwhelming assault of aural bolts needling into your head going 64,000 mph...I think there's even some vocals on here but who's to say. The last track is short like the first, and features Hototogisu at their slimiest, thickest, and dirtiest, as if the duo were jamming together in a swamp fifty feet below sea level. You see that mirrored animal skull on the cover? Well it's what I'd imagine his puke sounding like. If you can dig it.
It's hard to find too much to say about these kinds of tunes, which is probably the best compliment I can pay it anyway. It's just the kind of musical tour-de-force that needs to be heard for itself to be believed. Not all of it is 100% capitivating at every minute, and I wouldn't call it the group's best effort yet either, but it's here for you to grapple with so you might as well give it a shot. Personally I'd like to see the group revisit the melody/ambience than infected early/pre-Marcia era Hototogisu recordings, just because I think it'd be an interesting change of pace. How many full-lengths of endless balls-to-the-wall blasting can one make and/or listen to? Having said that though I'm especially curious about this upcoming "slab of death metal" LP soon to be released on Nashazphone...if it's anything like their prior metal exploration "Green", it'll be a winner hands down.