Is “all-encompassing” a cop-out term? Greek trio MMMD, a.k.a. Mohammad, have been eating us alive since 2013’s Som Sakrifis, and as someone following underground music back then, reading various interpretations of its sonic power was enthralling because its uncompromising, sensory-depraving tones assured that our reflections came out of our own visceral reactions rather than out of our interactions with any sort of external text. Our own Birkut began his immersive review of Som Sakrifis with an image of being alone on an island off of Cambodia with nothing but a winking, far-off light for assurance. Som Sakrifis in this allegory was both enveloping darkness and faint, hopeful light. What, then, is Pèkisyon Funebri? And what kind of status quo does its long-form drones conjure? What kind of hope, if any, does it offer a listener?
MMMD’s music has always reminded me of Howard Shore’s scores for The Lord of the Rings films, and as such, my listening has always been guided by that association. For me, Som Sakrifis was heroic music, war music, music by which pastoral hobbits fought against evil wizards and abominable orcs and glowing eyeballs, when outcomes of such battles meant everything to every thing, big or small, dwarf or elf, human or tree. Its overwhelming oppressiveness brought me into a breaking world, vied over by many, but plagued by absolutes. With Pèkisyon Funebri, MMMD has signified a formic return after a brief cartographical break from its regularly scheduled programming. It’s a quiet return at first, as opener “Az álmok itt érnek véget (rész 1)” culls an open landscape, a place where blood has been shed by neighbors who have found themselves equal under a force more terrible than God. “Qoxra” follows, a tremor-inducing dirge for everything that has been lost since “Liberig Min.” What follows is as nerve-wracking as it is steadying, and while my complete ignorance of Greek language obscures my semiotic reading of Pèkisyon Funebri as a multi-movement piece, my feeling is that its slow, plodding drones are of great human import somehow.
Unlike its stylistic predecessor, Pèkisyon Funebri is broken down into many long form movements. There are hiccups here, moments of letting up that are later infiltrated by solid, unyielding sound. “Sorsa” is punctuated by muted pulses, for instance, offering real moments of reprieve from this conjured world’s constant gravity while amplifying more sinuous, time-defying stretches of obligatory crying out like on “Malproksime” and closer “Erdia Da.” Whereas Som Sakrifis felt like that riddle about what has four legs by morning, two by afternoon, and three by evening, Pèkisyon Funebri asks “What’s in my pockets?” Its massiveness, sustained by a bold confidence in potentially liberating non sequiturs, signals a subtle change in trajectory toward a shadowy asymptote; this may not be MMMD’s magnum opus, but its power is great and its cohesion as a work is palpable. And like Som Sakrifis, its reach is absolute. Uniquely, its staying power suggests that MMMD’s reach can transcend time, bridging a Middle Earth and a dying one.
A function of drone as a form is that it grabs and sustains our attention in its steadfastness. It slows us down. It directs our attention. It soundtracks our movements, placing new and unusual stresses on our actions in time. As an electroacoustic genre, its affectiveness relies on subjectivity, while its deliberateness is a sign that begs some kind of reflection. Is Pèkisyon Funebri all-encompassing then? I’m not sure. Its reaches in reality are relatively short as its audience is limited by dedication and access, but its potential, I think, is a unifying one, even if it unifies primarily by pressing down on everything equally. Much like Barry Lyndon’s Epilogue, Pèkisyon Funebri reminds us of our fundamental equality amidst violent inequity: “It was in the reign of George III that the aforesaid personages lived and quarrelled. Good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor. They are all equal now.” So what do we do from here while we are alive? Well, as TMTer Mukqs once said, “Just sit and listen.” Let it all sink in. Let it make your bones shake. Let it change how you walk. Let it bring you down when you feel too proud. Let it pull you up when you feel too small. Let it be and let yourself be changed by its unrelenting resonance. If even for a moment, let it make you feel something so that you have proof of your own dignity when forces of evil threaten it. Let it play. And let it outlive its own dark cloud.