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Asva - Futurists Against The Ocean

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Artist: Asva

Album: Futurists Against The Ocean

Label: Web of Mimicry

Review date: Jun. 13, 2005

Sometime before Ozzy, Geezer, Tony and Bill decided to shed their prophetic moniker Earth and wax crepuscular with Black Sabbath, a much more benign crew was witching it up on the other side of the pond, namely, Coven.

Coven even took to [attempting] a Black Mass recreation as part of their stage histrionics; predictably, it came off more Montrachet than macabre. The trio would chant bits of Crowley’s Liber Al vel Legis, invert some crucifixes, and intone a few hails to the Dark Lord. Tedious, to say the least.

Remarkably, it’s taken over 30 years for a band to forgo the theatrics and forge the Lex Satanicus out of the most unlikely of materials. Hammond organ? Tubular bells? Squalling female vocals? Yes. Asva pulls the prog tools from the belt and works out some incredibly massive minimal structures with the additions of seismic bass – courtesy of Stuart Dahlquist, a.k.a. Bootsy Kronos – and some Crover on Quaaludes martial percussion from the curiously acronym’d B.R.A.D.

Just as Teutonic Knights Bohren und der Club of Gore covered Cool Jazz in an odiferous Grimm Robe, Asva consumes the methodology of numerous avant notables (La Monte Young, Dylan Carlson – even Arvo Pärt) and fuses them together with a near effortless panache. Instead of engulfing one’s ears with relentless concrete riffing, Asva stretch way the fuck out, sliding a roundtrip bass line around warbling organ and phaser’d guitar. The effect is like reading an early Claude Simon novel: The prose’s lack of punctuation goes from annoying, to liberating, to trance inducing. And then B.R.A.D. enters with something so unlike traditional percussion that one’s left with a confusing mélange of similes. Clamped cymbals and drums sink into roomy atmospherics. Accents fall like coffins from speeding carriages. Cymbals are choked blue. Silence gives way to Dahlquist’s buzzing bass seeping through the recording as black smoke creeps from a censer.

The first three pieces are a ludicrously easy listen. By the time one hits the 26-minute mark, B.R.A.D.’s percussive pugilism slows down into a gurgling tympani attack. Dahlquist rows over the organ – plaintive plucking that drops into the classic Spaghetti Western bass bomb. This is something that Ennio Morricone would’ve written if he were out of his head on opium, and getting seduced by a duo of succubi.

The last track, “By the Well of Living and Seeing,” is the most unsophisticated of the lot, with basic drum barrage hammering around chanting female voices, laconic detuned riffs, somberly reflective organ. Perhaps this is necessary: Like La Monte Young’s mesmerizing Black Album, Asva’s Futurists Against the Ocean is a tough trance to shake free.

Ensembles guilty of treading the fathoms of deep sludge to one-up the next group of hair farmers, take notice. With this release, the slate’s clean. The ooze is now otiose.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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