Throughout their career of making alternative instrumental sounds, Swiss quartet Lilium Sova have never become musically stagnant. With each record, their art rock meets post metal has dug deeply into a world of musical freedoms. Whether working a grinding bass riff and atonal woodwind on a number worthy of Mike Patton’s Ipecac label (2012’s ‘2.00 AM Insomnia’), indulging in a sound that feels like a Mask of Bees demo reworked by Al Jourgensen (2008’s ‘Moose’) or even delving into the murky musical waters of sludge metal tempered by a strange blackgaze sheen (2016’s ‘Ofkaeling (Valley 6/6)’, their world of noise is never less than fascinating.
Formed in 1993, Larsen are an experimental band from Italy. Their members have managed to keep a fairly low profile over the decades, but that didn’t stop their 2002 LP ‘River’ achieving critical acclaim in both Europe and the States. In 2008, the band were joined by Ann O’Connor (aka Little Annie, aka Annie Anxiety Bandez). Little Annie, a New York performance artist – formerly of Asexuals and known for collaborations with Current 93, Nurse With Wound and Kid Congo Powers – gave the band an extra dimension when adding spoken passages to their disjointed sounds.
Eagerly awaited by fans, their 2019 EP ‘Tiles’ ends a three year recording silence. Its four tracks teeter between darkly gothic and just plain difficult, but it’s often it’s more than possible to understand where this avant-garde/art rock collective are headed.
Beyond calling it “art metal noise”, the music of Plecto Aliquem Capite is hard to define. It’s been called “next level black metal”, but it’s often hard to hear how such a claim was made. The four tracks on their 2016 EP ‘The End’ have a few black metal traits in some of the riffs, but that’s all. ‘The End’ presents the worst excesses of art metal, of avant garde clanking and of general ugliness. It’s possible to suggest that even those who like a musical challenge will be affronted by most of what’s being offered here.
Mask of Bees are an experimental band from Manchester, proudly crossing musical boundaries and caring not for any kind of genre tagging. Their overall sound blends art rock with a metallic crunch and then gives that a massive send off with huge swathes of jazz fusion. Hearing them is an intense experience, almost as if bits of The Jesus Lizard got spliced with bits of TesseracT, Soft Machine and an old John Coltrane record.
Stripping away the lightning speed drums and very much favouring a mid paced plod, or a funeral march, Estonia’s Vanad Varjud experiment with some of black metal’s more avant-garde elements throughout their 2016 release ‘Dismal Grandeur In Nocturnal Aura’. Although they are billed as “ambient”, fans of genuine ambient music will certainly want to give this a wide berth. Judging by the four compositions featured on this release, the band don’t always seem to understand what ambient truly means. Most of the supposed ambient moments seem to be either just slow, or hastily composed oddness with a jarring noise for accompaniment.