Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Metal Rouge - Salt Stones (Stunned Records CD-R)

Andrew Scott and Helga Fassonaki's Metal Rouge have been it for a few years now, I believe. They've had releases all over the place but perhaps none quite so well presented as this. Salt Stones represents over 45 minutes of their opaque sound just soft enough to expose the fragile details within.

The disc opens with "Aligning Mud with Salt," whose interweaving clouds of guitar annihilation are, like a swarm of insects, insurmountable in their density but highly mobile and active. Squalling riffs interlace as vocals seem to ooze out of the mix in one cacophonous wave after another. Definitely some Dead C and even some Harry Pussy in there, but so dense as to melt those influences down into a molten lead.

"Embryonic Bird Zero" opens with sharp guitar strums over Helga's distant moans. As Andrew shoots off high end electrical wire fuzz, Helga's voice adds an ominous, near Pocahaunted singing style, though hers is one of fits and starts rather than the longer, chant-like vocalizings of Pocahaunted. Before too long the proceedings drift into a slower and more minimal metallic slant. Electronic arpeggiations interweave with strums and gestures from Andrew as washes of fuzz coalesce with Helga's atmospheric vocal shudders. Soon the fuzz builds back as Helga's vocals subside. Slow and dizzy blues twangs and slides bend over one another while synthesized guitar insanity lurches on in the background. Blips and squelches emerge from the dust of the dense layer of fuzz which lies below all of the proceedings here, soon moving into bassier and more obtuse territory that nearly sounds like some monk chant stuff or something.

That Metal Rouge are able to wield such heavy axes without losing any lushness or detail of activity is wonderful. Rather than pushing its listener into a dark cavern they merely seem to suggest a number of paths at any given moment, opportuning you the ability to peak down each of them before they choose one. "None People," recorded live at, fittingly, Frank's Power Plant, though I suspect that's probably a club and not an emitter of cold electric energy, though it sure would be fitting if it were. The duo tone things down a bit for the crowd here, opening with a steady three-note pulse while guitar wails pummel about as softly as the simmering hum of electric lines underneath various discursive events in the audience. As the work crescendos over its length, it begins to merge more and more with its surroundings, seemingly melding with the very air in the room and just hovering, static and warmed by the friction of its minute vibrations. Small details begin to break off and make statement; feedback, cries, equipment battles, all add to its organic and fluid sound world.

Metal Rouge, clearly with a knack for finding the inner rhythms of a work and letting them unfold as they will, have released another great one with Salt Stones. The package, yet another step for Stunned, is a beautiful CD-R with sari cloth and gorgeous liner notes. The CD too is printed, and it all fits right together to make this one of the most beautiful looking Stunned releases yet. Sold out at source, but probably available everywhere else.

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