Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

June 1, 2012

Unwom ~ Phase 1: Inner Earth Dimension

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: experimental, drone metal, instrumental
Label: self-released
Year: 2006
Home: n/a

Members: Sartyx, Daf├┐dd ~ all instruments

In the 60's/70's prog & psych bands were looking to create more than just pop music but an audio experience where it was more than just melody & harmony but sound itself under the microphone. Krautrock is nothing but such an experience & Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music brought things to a staggering new low, while the Grateful Dead & Ya Ho Wa 13 were influenced by the same inspiration to spiritual highs. Sonic Youth would help bring it to a new generation. The entire minimalist classical scene was inspired with this same focus. Like most movements this one has returned, if it ever really went away, with the modern version going under such names as industrial & the Indian-esque drone metal. Drone metal might be the closest to an accurate description as one can get as droning notes are a key factor in the style. It's chaos yet also structure in the same song. It's improvisation with deliberate manipulation. Drone metal is actually far more organized than it lets on. Musicians spend a lot of time playing with sounds to generate new sounds & audio experiences. The days of just playing & whatever came out is what's on the tape have largely been lost due to the ease of remixing things on computer taking what might have started out very improvised & chaotic & organizing it into something that does have structure & without a doubt drone metal is not without its structure. But, whatever the approach the goal is essentially the same - the enjoyment of pure sound away from all the confines traditionally associated with song composition. Sunn 0))) might be the biggest name in the genre but it is a growing field & other bands, such as Black Cobra, are slowly coming to the fore through hypnotic live shows & experimental recordings. Personally, I find the genre fascinating & my own music, under the moniker of Black Faced Prophet, sits nicely into it. But, on the other hand, I'll also confess it's difficult to listen to & maybe at times a bit painful. The name I work under says it all. I, & others of the style, make music with a mood in mind but I know the listener may not be able to interpret the message I'm sending. I tend to have a spiritual slant so Prophet implies that a message does under the instrumentals. But, as you can't decipher the message & I know this I let my prophet's face be blank, essentially messageless, & I let you create the prophets face with whatever you see. As it is we tend to interpret things however we want. Yes, it's a bit narcissistic as I'm making music only truly understandable to myself, but in some ways so is the drone metal field on a whole. It is music made more for oneself & a private moment for someone else than sing-a-long anthems & MTV. Unwom's Phase 1: Inner Earth Dimension, such a great title, is the debut of a creative new in the genre who lay out sheets of highy distorted guitars slowed down so every nuance rises to the top. The worst drone metal is that which goes for clutter. The best is when there's only a few sounds. It's up to mainstream music to layer, it's up to this style of experimental music to clear out the clutter. Unwom keep it very clean, maybe even too much at times acting as a detriment to variety in the some of the longer arrangements & leading the songs to sound too much alike ... though the title belays a concept where sounding alike might be the goal. The five tracks start at fifteen minutes slowing working their way down to five, while each are named "Level" 1 through 5 with the subtitles: "Deep-Dark Magma", "Northern Entrance", "Onsets Of Core Implosions", "Seismic P-Waves," "Spheroidal Oscillations". The goal of similiar sounding songs versus major tonal variations becomes more apparent with this additional information. This is more than just experiments in noise but a unified vision of the first part, or phase 1, of a journey into earth, presumably on a physical level. Whether you get the prophet's message or the blank face is debatable but certainly there's a prophet in the mists. A highly distorted guitar of subtle layers droning infinity on a single sound, like the best of minimalist music, forms the backbone for most of the songs while bubbling keyboards, strange sounds & shorter guitar bursts create forward movement. There's also undecipherable growled lyrics giving it a bit of a metal feel. It's hard to say if the vocals are a bonus or not, but they certainly are necessary as with just the foundation the songs have little movement & lots of repetition. Though, the vocals do put each song into the same mood, returning to the earlier mention of similiarly sounding songs, which might be a bit to the detriment of some listeners. There's no beat or time keeping track as is normal for the style. This isn't as complex or experimentally layered as Sunn 0))) & might bore some fans of that band & the paths they've dug. On the other hand this might be a great introduction for some by the book drone metal for those curious of the style. The eleven minute "Level 2" features a break where everything goes down to a moan & then the guitars return for a bubbling ending. It has the best sound effects with what sounds like saws. "Level 3" aims for exploding guitars instead of drones over the 13 minute piece. Probably the best of all the songs. It's certainly the most interesting. Unwom started in 2005 by two musicians with a concept to create something that is not music but an experience with, as their website reads, "a dark & enigmatic blend of subsonic landscapes & surrounding mystic oscillations." The album is free on their website.

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