Wednesday, August 10, 2011



CIRCLE OF OUROBORUS
from Tampere, Finland

website - facebook - myspace (unofficial fan page)

I'm a bit fat. Once upon a time, I was a proto-athlete, I competed in high-jump and long-jump events, but a few too many beers and steaks have taken their toll in the past decade and a half, and while I can probably still outjump you, I've been trying to get some exercise routine back. I'm too cheap to join a gym, so that means running, and fortunately I have a cool place to run a minute away from me, so I can do it in the middle of the grass and trees instead of that depressing car-dodging downtown city folk have to do if they want to go out for a jog. Being me, I run with headphones all the time, and I'm actually pretty straightforward about it, I don't need something with a beat to pump me up or whatever. I can pretty much run with Loss, Anaal Nathrakh or Ray LaMontagne and keep the same pace.

Today, however, Circle Of Ouroborus totally ruined my exercise. Thanks to the privilege that is having friends in spiritually high places, I had already heard the Finnish band's new album, 'Eleven Fingers', out now on Handmade Birds on vinyl format, a few times via streaming. I have a strange issue with streaming stuff though, despite being a computer person, there's a distance there that I can't seem to bridge between me and the music, whenever I listen to something that way. Last night, however, I was able to get my grubby mits on a digital version of the record, so I naturally saved it for my morning woods (ahem) run. Goddamn it. I kept stopping and having to sit down as the beast sunk in, blow after mortal blow on my ill-conceived notion of how extreme music should sound.



It's that drastic. I have naturally kept up with Circle Of Ouroborus' output throughout the last few years, first coming into contact with them after that split with Urfaust which preceded their debut, and they have never been a predictable band, very far from it. A few ups and downs with their proper albums released so far ('Shores', 'Tree Of Knowledge' and 'Unituli' are really the ones I keep listening to regularly) had them more tagged in my head as a sort of oddity. An oddity with a huge amount of potential, granted, but still. After this disturbing listen to 'Eleven Fingers', however, it's as if everything they've done has been wiped away, as mere stepping stones on the way up to the monument. I'm on my third paragraph without even trying to describe what it sounds like, and there's a reason. I really can't. Not while it's fucking with my head so deeply as it is now.

If you thought the post-something categories we've had to come up with in the last few years because we've ran out of names to call music were hard to stomach, then these people have just made everything worse by one extra degree of post. They've done post-punk and post-black metal and even post-shoegaze or post-neofolk before, and this is what comes after that. After the post. Is it going back to the beginning? Is it the Ouroborus of life itself eating the tail of music categorization? See what I mean about it fucking with my head?

Atonal guitars that sound little like what we expect a guitar to sound like at all, vocals that sound like they were recorded without ever listening to the music but which fit it with an eerie perfection, aggressive melody at war with mellow violence, I don't know. It's as much beaten and drugged Urfaust hanging by their balls as it is the exhumed corpse of Joy Division playing atmospheric Bone Awl covers in reverse with an undead priest howling the vocals from another room. The only clear picture I get from this is the face of all the kids who will eventually download this from some Russian website thinking it's yet another black metal album to file under everyday crap with all the others, and whose brain will melt after five minutes alone with it. Just like mine is, too.

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