Artists: Metonima / Meima
Keywords: Abstract, IDM, Electro
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
In 2007 I received a friend request from an Italian artist going by three different aliases for his music, all of which were really good. I asked if he’d be inclined to send something in for release and he agreed to send me some things he had recently created, though told me he wouldn’t be forwarding much under his name Azrael because he was planning on sending most of that material for release on disc to other labels. To this day, I hope he was successful, as this brilliant album was unavailable far too long for how great it is… glad I can now present it again here! Anyway, at the time all of this occurred, Metonima / Meima / Azrael had also uploaded several images to his MySpace page of himself spearfishing off the coast of some Mediterranean isle, chilling out next to a bonfire at night, etc… I don’t know if he was still vacationing there when he made this material, and/or while we were in contact, or had just gotten back – but those images coloured my perception of these tracks a lot more than even the album artwork has. I like to imagine these tracks were created while the artist was alone, spearing fish on some isolate island during the day and drumming up the dark, primal energy of this record by night on a computer that… ah, I suppose was plugged straight into the earth itself, maybe powering itself off a long forgotten ley line or something… but the point is, this work has some really great vibes, a dark, modern-primitive soul that speaks to the nature of man though composed of highly post-modern electronic sounds, eventually becoming more and more futurist as the album unfolds.
We begin with ‘Oct’, which sounds very dark ambient and kind of frightening, like the sound of being in a cave at night in a predatory wilderness. Bits of sound, like electronically recreated animal noises shriek in from out of the night. Strange electronic tribal rhythms start in, very subtle in the mix and unsettling. Then, out of nowhere, this jazzy / funky breakbeat comes in along with bits of really low, growling bass guitar. Really great stuff, and toward the end soft flutes rustle around amidst the soundscape void along with strings and electric piano.
Next is ‘Threun’, in which howling electronic drones and low feedback tones ascend from the still very looming darkness. The disjointed breaks here are pure perfection. I remember when I first heard this and some of the other tracks on this album the first thing that came into mind was that this was like a post-Millennial update to the sort of sound explored by 23 Skidoo on tracks like The Gospel Comes To New Guinea. Treated horns replicate the feel of overhead bomber jets hitting the sound barrier above us. Low bass guitar, more drones… everything echoes in this environment, spins, makes us feel alone grasping for familiarity and stumbling.
After this is ‘Ninet’. It sounds like a downtuned piano drone, black as a century egg. A low tribal drum pattern comes in. There’s a disorienting effect that comes over you when everything is taken together. Horns, bell tones, a partly broken feeling break that’s just a few BPMs too slow to make this sound like a jungle track. I hear muted guitar echoing out… so many of the pads sound like the sort of gritty, abstract thing that people sometimes get out of VSTs like NI’s Absynth, but the alien is mingled with a distinct naturalism so that it’s very hard to tell just how these sounds have been produced, though it’s possible this vibe has come about through the very expert use of effects, mostly reverb. This is almost like dark Goa breaks, really trippy stuff!
‘Xtone’ features water dripping, a few bell-tone drone pads, strange sound effects spinning around our heads, more alien vibes… I hear low, African drums, some whispers… then a modified, treated string that melts into bells. Then brief bits of primitive rhythm emerge, a reverb infused horn. Backward gong crash for a second? That was strange! Loving the feel of this track. The bell chords, chill and melodic, lull you into a trance while the tribalism gets infused with abstract electro percussion. Electro djembe?.. and one of the drones even sounds a bit like a didgeridoo.
‘-13 5’ is like dark, slightly abstract electro funk. The sound is very chill, a perfect accompaniment to a night of dazed zombie-walking on poorly lit streets. Very zombielike, but not the viral fast zombies or even the kind who shamble around in malls, but the style that are made with toxic fungal powders by Bela Lugosi types. Phazed chirping, low rolling grumble bass, bells, shuffled breaks, low pad chords, free floating horns… the mixing, in particular the movement of it with sometimes the same sound hitting hard in one measure to be more subdued in the next, excites the senses, all while inducing hypnosis. Very nice!
Then it’s ‘6 15 21 14 4’. Shimmering electronic drones, like time-shifted bells. A filtered groove is subtly playing very low in the bass frequencies, warping. Saw-waves are swaying… it’s like listening to a cosmic heartbeat from somewhere out in the cosmos. It ends with a bass sizzle.
‘Db’ is like the wind, run through huge amounts of processing to sound modulated. A distorted bass frequency comes in, followed soon by tribal drums like a stomping from out of the darkest jungle. JUMANJI! Sorry about yelling that so suddenly, I do that sometimes. Just a condition I have. Deep sounds here, overall… very low, rumbling sounds. I hear a choir at one point, it’s almost unrecognizable so primal everything else has been, it’s like a forgotten humanity that only lasts a couple seconds.
‘S’ keeps the mechanistic tribal drones going, and then this high-speed broken glitched up breakbeat comes in, really freaky / funky! It fucks with your head, you never know when some huge drum thing is going to burst so suddenly through the walls like the Kool-Aid man on amphetamines. It leaves just as suddenly, and you remember just how much space was lurking there in the background. Then it returns, blasting your brain off to another dimension. There’s some really nice filtering, a tete-a-tete between drum and bass that makes for some seriously interesting audio to explore.
Next is ’10 Anu’, in which IDM style drum & bass programming mingles with tribal, dark break beats. The droning chill pad chords, horns and sweeps make you feel like a private universe is here expanding beyond the sonic brink of possibilities. This is definitely another zombie groove; you are a cloth doll in someone else’s hands, being wrung and stuck with pins to move to unnatural rhythms. There’s also a sexiness to this track that comes across, like it could be the soundtrack to a 3AM lovemaking session between sweaty silk sheets. Loving those drums! Very reverby, partly treated with rapid delay in some sections. The pads and horns at the end sound like the demise of a star system.
‘2enti-F’ begins with heavy electronically modified bits of percussion and electro drums while ambient textures move and shift underneath. Distorted bass frequencies come in low in the mix, there are a lot of really cool robotic noises that echo out. Absolutely beautiful, in a cold and mechanical sort of way! This is very IDM, the programming and use of effects superb. Hissing bursts of shrill noise escape from time to time. There is never a lack of wildly interesting sounds here.
Then after comes ‘Niene’. It sounds at first like an experimental Concrète track, lots of clanging bits of arranged noise. I hear a vocal clip at several points, possibly from some Japanese animation. Very post-industrial IDM… the bass thump that comes in occasionally is really nice, as is the percussion that eventually gains cohesion. Mental imagery of a flight through the underbelly of some technopolis enters my head… I see an alleyway covered in litter, cyborg sentries guarding the door to a nightclub for fetishists, this track is heard playing from within.
‘A T-D’ has got a lot of ambient texture. A 4/4 echoing electro house groove floats in soon, becoming very segmented. On top of this eventually we hear clips of vocal, synth bass, minimal tribalism. This is probably one of the tracks on here that most makes you want to dance.
‘C0s’ brings back a bit of darkness… a sparse darkness with bits of ‘verby electro-tribal percussion and popping stabs of low bass. Eventually a 4/4 groove develops, very minimal, with low surging swells of distorted bass, while strange sounds continue to echo out creating a space in the mix permeated by the trails and traces of the sounds that once were.
‘X0’ starts with a few shots of distorted electronic buzzing, flanged string chords, then some low kick drums. A shifting, trancy synth sequence comes in while weird electronic noises continue to float around. A 4/4 house beat and break also come in. Toward the end, a lot of these things drop off, leaving us in a dark soundscape, then a distorted industrial break comes in, then followed by something sort of like an Amen break over the top of it. Textures are let loose all over…
… ‘Lysrineia’ feels very dark ambient, featuring swells of choir, warbles of bass coming up every so often. Then we’re treated to another dark breakbeat, heavy on the rides. Stuff drops in and out of the mix constantly. The drums are really cool on this one, IDM anti-groove emerge with very unique combinations of percussive sounds. So many tracks on this album make you want to go “ooooooooOOOH-WHA!” I do anyway, every time I put this one on. 😉 Lots of tribalism and strange mechanical noises! Close to the end I could have sworn I heard a heavily modified and darkly produced piano for just a second or so.
The final track is ‘Meima (Listened To Everything Except The Memory Of)’ which features lots of full sounding textures at first, low bass swells, then peculiar backmasked strings and a breakbeat in which tape fuzz seems to factor in heavily and sounds glitched. The ambiance of it is very dark and nice! Filtered bass pads that sound as though they could be a really low chant. Clips of percussion seem to pan hard from left to right. Very weird stuff, highly experimental even for this album, and a cool closing piece.
I hope you enjoy this release… I know I did! It’s an abundance of awesomely dark tribal and IDM sounds, well over the time that would fit on a normal CD. You can pick it up at the following link, also, just in case you were wondering: