Sujo’s first few releases, CD-Rs, were almost pure black drone, rigid to the point of salvation, with little room for rhythms, screams, or other distractions that might have diluted the purity. I liked these early ritual sacrifices to the god of Locrian, but thank the-fuck christ they decided to branch out for their first LP, Kahane, a slow-building experime(n)tal journey that throws down as much as it floats up. Within the first couple tracks, they’ve already tossed out the rulebook, indulging in stuttering warp-speed drum machine gallops; raw, wriggling effects; guitar growls that stand out more in the mix than before; and, if not outright screams, remnants of what once were screams.
“Achille” is the most daunting change, investing in bombastic drums you might find on a Ministry outtake. That’s jarring, but there’s still the matter of the thick, atomic fog: It isn’t going anywhere. So really, you might describe Kahane as the same Sujo swamp with new creatures lurking about, many of them invasive. There’s no way to tell what constitutes the base of this soupy aural discharge, so I’ll take a random swipe at it: sunn 0))) guitars turned down a ton, a layer of noise, a thin sheet of cloudy drone, and two-dozen lost dead souls screaming against the passage of lonely centuries. (Nailed it!)
The title track chases black-metal demons down another drum machine-created chasm, and with less of a thicket around it, the drums and guitar sound a lot thinner, frailer — more human (Side B’s forays into similar territory, replete with ork-esque snarls of wind-storm, work much better). This is where the record could have easily lost its bearings and choked off its noise-war appeal for another middling BM effort, and if it weren’t for the fascinating manipulation of the robotic rhythms, that might well be the case. While “Kahane” is the weakest onslaught, it doesn’t manage to drag its namesake down with it. A couple of rancid ragers on the flip side assure this, as razor-ripping soundclouds and encircling chimes counteract the damage done by a guitarist that suddenly seems more evil than ever. Discombobulated drums join in, and the high point of Kahane stretches before your ears like a California mountain valley, only covered in ashes and silt.
Not sure where this project is headed (a CD arrived recently that returned to the minimal black-bone of the past), and that’s what’s most exciting about Kahane in the scheme of things. It takes a lot of chances, and suffers at times for them, but the final product effectively furthers Sujo’s explorations from a mere earth-poke to a full-fledged black-muck refinery. DRILL BABY, DRILL, says I.