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Einóma - Milli Tónverka

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Artist: Einóma

Album: Milli Tónverka

Label: Vertical Form

Review date: Nov. 21, 2003

Almost single-handedly, Einóma are unearthing the corpses long lost to the ecstasy of communication in ’90s electronic music. By this I mean not only the darkness found in early jungle and especially IDM (we must mention, of course, Autechre), but of the menace in the Thrill Kill Kult, Nurse With Wound, Zoviet France, and especially Coil. These corpses, perhaps only recessed, are being raised from their absence, much to the horror of the ecstatic, the E-kiddies whose understanding of beats is limited to a teeth-grinding smile. Let that smile lax into paralysis – the face of Aphex Twin in Come To Daddy – and you will descend, and begin to twist in the abstract, surreal soundscapes of Einóma.

If we are to set the default genre, let us say IDM, but with an industrial tinge, a microsound palette, a superb, electroacoustic level of production, an experimental edge, a perverse jazz... Einóma are all of these, as rundown, broken and demented rhythms scratch themselves to the breaking point, a chilled listening session of The Orb gone horribly awry, taking us down headfirst, like the dreamtraps in Vurt, to the long neglected worlds of Future Sound of London. (Speaking of whom, have a new album, the first in seven ancient years.)

Compared to their last project, Undir Feilnótum (Vertical Form), Milli Tónverka is a step into the composition of the spaces and sounds Einóma had only previously touched upon, possibly only glimpsed. Whereas Undir Feilnótum retained several IDM structures as referential markers, if not supports, and lapsed into beats only, it seemed, to do that which was required, as if such beats were of necessity by genre alone, Milli Tónverka unleashes beats as stacatto penetrations of silence, of long, exploratory motions in wastelands of sound, employing extreme pitchshifting, ramshackle and layered spikes and repetitions, Scorn-like drones, classical instrumentation (haunting piano), and sung chamber music (as well as solo female vocals, reverbed and, if I may say, elf-like). This latter component – the ‘gothic choir’, but also the imaginative of Tolkien, perhaps, although we could also mention early Delerium – is a risky and dangerous proposition, as it balances all the clichés that could result in sampling the bane of industrial’s demise. And certainly the cliché is pronounced in its presence, but its quick deployment and technically precise processing offer the voice as a signal rather than an over abused signifier. It’s a call, this signal, to return, again (and so many returns in electronic music of late, to the ’80s, in so many ways, a plundering). To return to the shadowlands of beats, atmospheres, and grey swathes, where rhythm meets mad and insanely detailed beat & percussion placement, this land where the shadow speaks of the ears we must lend to hear an increasingly darkened world.

Which is to say that the rhythms of Milli Tónverka are second to none (although many are, in this respect, ‘second to none’, each being singular). They are, to an extent, conventional insofar as they maintain a consistent cycle (no clashing rhythms, no offbeat disjunctions). But with this cycle, the play is pronounced, accelerated, moody and metallic. Slicing, cutting – these beats are knives, and then, with the next evolutive turn, cold caresses.

Given that Einóma are not at all interested in warmth, but are self-immersed in a cold, distant, and often densely oppressive engagement with sound, with a tradition, as well, of the alienation in the electronic, if not technology, if not the theatre and film (and Einóma conjoin the tradition of the industrial soundscape in this respect), of the alienation that can be produced by art as thought by Brecht (the alienation of audience from actor, of confrontation, of the solitary arrival of the self, the alienation felt in listening, and not only to Einóma, but to the rhythms here, in this sentence, which mimes Einóma¹s rhythm and strategies of alienation, this complexity), then Einóma offer, with the other hand, an invitation to enmesh the listening-body with the alien (as we, here, embrace an alien reading), rather than feel distanced (we are close now, to the end, even), as if with artifice, from the mutant machine twirling away from the speakers.

While much of industrial-IDM is enraptured by aping the achievements of ‘founders’ (a general statement, again, & probably untenable), Einóma have crafted a piece worthy of imitation, theft, and a proper burial.

By tobias c. van Veen

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