Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stagnant Waters: Stagnant Waters (2012)

Massive Steel Asylum for Self-Aware Robots

Guest review by Patrick, proprietor of Beards, Etc.

Stagnant Waters are apparently of mixed French and Norwegian origin, and this month will see the release of their self-titled debut album. I'm not totally sure how to classify their style, but I think the closest label would be something like avant-garde industrial metal.

First and foremost, this band has three outstanding qualities. They are extremely creative, extremely energetic, and extremely diverse. The group employs an enormous amount of electronic sampling and distortion throughout the record, with sounds ranging from outright aural assaults of pure noise to quiet and spooky passages of mellow background sounds to squawking saxophone pieces. Sometimes this record is loud and aggressive beyond measure, other times it's remarkably soft. Throughout it all everything is very alien, impersonal, mechanical, and slightly unnerving. The vocals which crop up are heavily processed and distorted, as are the bulk of the instruments, so that when something makes it through the mix untouched by electronic interference the very organic nature of its existence is a shock to the senses, like a vine growing up through a crack in the floor of a massive steel asylum for self-aware robots.

This record is so bizarre, so foreign, and so wildly varied from one moment to the next that I feel like I could talk about it for days and still never fully describe exactly what I've heard. This is a good thing in some respects. The wild, spontaneous, creative energy this album exudes carries the mark of genius. But on the other hand, the schizophrenic detachment from anything resembling reality or cohesion leaves the whole affair smacking of insanity. In the end I'm not sure which of those two labels is more apt here, as in some places I found myself thinking this was amazingly good while in others I thought it might be the worst thing I'd ever heard. I think, really, that both sides have an equal claim in this instance.

The Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

I can't even begin to grasp whether this album is an incredible success or a monumental failure, but its originality and energy make me glad I heard it.

Buy Stagnant Waters

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