Aluk Todolo Voix

[The Ajna Offensive; 2016]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: occult rock, black metal, krautrock
Others: Diamatregon, Sannhet, Guardian Alien, Laddio Bolocko

Perhaps Aluk Todolo’s Voix echoes the stranger, murkier reaches of our planet as it traverses its endless cycloidal trails through strange zones of emptiness: feedback wrung from decaying chords, spun into spidery strands and malign splinters, paroxysms of “blackened” tremolo-picking degenerating into sinister motifs and grinding bass lines. Or maybe Voix is a black monolith whose surface writhes with obscure hieroglyphs, a relic of a Hyperborean age, towering over frozen wastes (to use a metaphor). Or perhaps its inexorable but unpredictable outward eddies unfurl in a chaotic turbulence stirred up neither in brute repetition nor unfettered improvisation, but in a grotesque inner spontaneity, an inborn appetite for the superlunary sphere roiling an ever-widening gyre (also a long way from the standard epic post-metal twinkle → crushing crescendo dynamic).

Voix’s timelessness is not the timelessness of our age’s curiously blinkered form of nostalgia, and although the tools are from recent years — see below, friends — its syntax is primeval. An observer of an ancient, terrible rite, you might begin to feel the untwisting and unspooling of your own inner contortions into a state of peculiar tranquility, like cold grey ash covering up the glowing embers, as W. said of wisdom. Still, a little relaxation would be more than a little too human, an unworthy end. A truly cosmic vision, that’s something else: the dissolution of that wretched little organism of yours, spinning out from your adjustable office chair over and across boundless time into the endlessness of atoms and the fucking void, perceptions like a fine coat of dust across every inch of extended matter. And so on — you get the idea.

Don’t be too misled by the reference to occult though, even after Aluk Todolo’s previous album, Occult Rock. It’s easy to forget that there’s more to the occult than kitschy Crowley-isms, unholy invocations, pentagrams, or non-Euclidean tentacled crawling nameless eldritch horror. There’s also an “occult” without adornment, without the accoutrements of subculture or chicanery — an occult that doesn’t mean anything more or less than concealed. It’s not even that long ago (on a cosmic scale) when gravity itself was considered occult, Newton a retrograde descent from intelligibility to hiddenness: when it seemed that the movements of the planets and comets could be explained by systems of interlocking vortices of particles, when everything could be explained by collisions of extended matter, why reintroduce something so imperceptible and unintelligible as gravity?

If names are anything more than empty boxes, that’s occult rock. Sure, if you’re that-way inclined, there are blackened metallic shards to be found amongst the planetary flotsam, but none of the codified structures and movements of those particular genre-gestures. And if Voix approaches misanthropy, it’s neither hate-fuelled nor depressive; it’s owed to a kind of grand, celestial indifference. Likewise, the idea that Krautrock could be said to have left some kind of unearthly trace isn’t entirely without merit, but it’s stripped of any space-age sheen (there’s certainly nothing utopian or dystopian about Voix — no neo-futurism, no synthezised oddities), and the rhythms are as tumescent as they are motorik1.

And yes, Voix is instrumental, but its voice is present in the fissures, the overtones, the ringing and feedback — and more inhuman, of course, in its enunciation than any human shriek could hope for. Speech might tell us that these stumbling fools all around us are not automata, that there are souls among the bodies whose endless collisions make up our worlds, but a voice doesn’t. A tongue flaps around in a head, sounds are produced, and it’s all mere bodies. Voix never becomes overburdened with the cruel theater of meaning that takes place in the mental sphere; besides, as we’ve known for thousands of years, the intellect must always turn back to phantasms.

1. For those who like to continue to play these kinds of games, it would be equally promising to look for forebears in the depths the harder edges of 90s “post-rock,” Am-Repish “noise rock,” and the CD-length pseudo-ambition of the more-or-less moribund corners of post-metal, less their structural and dynamic predictability. In any case, Occult Rock itself bears the tooth marks of both BM and Krautrock more clearly than does Voix.

Links: Aluk Todolo - The Ajna Offensive

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