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Z'ev - Symphony #2: Elementalities

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Artist: Z'ev

Album: Symphony #2: Elementalities

Label: Blossoming Noise

Review date: Feb. 22, 2007

Since the early ’80s, "industrial" music pioneer Z'ev has moved from thunderous performances based on metal percussion to less confrontational yet no less challenging avant compositions. Symphony #2, subtitled "Elementalities", began with source material recorded live in October 1990 (and released by Soleilmoon as Ghost Stories), which then went through new phases of composition, mixing, and mastering in 2005 and 2006.

Ironically, given the original release's title, here one can sense the source material as literally a ghost, hidden beneath layers of manipulation. Cacophonous rattling and massive thuds echo through galactic distances, almost felt more than heard amidst rumbling reverberations. The third of the nine movements begins with nearly subconscious low-end fluttering and adds fleeting creaks and scrapes.

Somewhat reminiscent of Lustmord's marvelous Paradise Disowned album, these pieces are about uneasy atmospherics. Due to the physicality of the original recordings Z'ev is able to move beyond simple ambience and into sounds that envelope, as his manipulation reconfigures the source material. The compositions shimmer when they should, and confront the listener with imposing percussives or twisting filigrees of sound when appropriate. The result is a listen that requires attention – putting this on in the background can be done, but it may not make a strong impression. Listening attentively, however, you'll be drawn in: listen to the fifth movement loudly on headphones and you'll either run to turn on all the lights or you'll be completely mesmerized.

In the booklet, each movement is given a page of text, but it's difficult to really make a connection between the words and the sound. Beyond the pure imagery of the words, what story or lesson they contain is rather lost within awkward phrasing and self-conscious verbal exercises, to whit: "The most skilled of her sonance suffused / Through your mind dwelling in the shapes / Towards which all tones are tuned / Like to light up Pan's pipes letting loose pandemonious / Woa two tones combine to countenance / What course of events." Ultimately, the sound carries the day, and does so quite successfully.

By Mason Jones

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