Review Summary: This is the stuff cult classics are made of. To whatever cult that is, though, I wouldn’t drink the punch.
There’s a special place in the cultural lexicon for sh
it like this, art so wrapped up in its own artiness it begs the question whether or not the artist
even understands it. The kind of album that gets one cursory halfway-through listen before it’s discarded in favor of the feel-good indie band-of-the-month, only to be revisited months later, now tagged as the “challenging listen.” And this time, with the proper mindset, it’s fantastic; a chilling, monumental work that despite not being all that musical or (let’s face it) enjoyable
, clicks. Perhaps it’s out of respect for the artist being able to create something so colossally profound that it doesn’t matter whether or not one “understands” it per se, just so long as one goes along for the ride. Maybe it actually does pluck some rusty strings untouched by so many variations on indie hymns, but either way, it’s loved. Then it’s never listened to again.
L’Autopsie Phenomenale de Dieu
is so that album.
Kreng is an ambient artist whose full length debut consists of two nineteen minute creepfests that will freak shi
ts out of audiences with its remarkably distinct atmosphere and masterful use of texturing and sound effects. Shuffling footsteps, clunky mallet percussion, dialogue samples, screaming, weeping, sex, it’s all here. Kreng’s background consists of scoring films (none of which are famous), and L’Autopsie
evidences that. The whole thing sounds like it’s being played under an art movie, black and white with heavy fog machines and dimly lit streets (Youtube “Kreng” for some hilariously meaningless drek inspired from his music). The common comparison is that Kreng’s music is like David Lynch’s films; It’s not impossible to imagine scenes from Eraserhead
or Inland Empire
rolling over Kreng’s psychologically damaging brand of spooky ambient. Both artists' work comes off more eerie than downright scary, but equally as powerful, if not more so.
The sound of L’Autopsie
closely resembles what Godspeed You! Black Emperor were doing on F#A# (Infinity)
in between snippets of actual melody. The album centers on sparse noodling all in the name of mood, and sometimes it works beautifully. In one particularly chilling sequence on side A, Kreng introduces an unsettling tri-tone violin theme, offsets it with a disconcerting dialogue sample, transitions into a perversely manic pounding of marimbas, then finds a wailing jazz singer bluesing “Oh lord!” independently of an accompanying saxophone. The brilliantly demented sequence occupies most of the Side A’s twenty minutes, and when it’s finished, the sound of crying jarringly leaves the imprint the whole L’Autopsie
project is designed for.
Side B is less effective than its predecessor, practically out of sheer exhaustion. It’s obvious L’Autopsie
“climaxes” around the end of Side A, and Side B’s modern drums (read: random hits) and wind noises are exhausting. It diminishes the record’s power as a whole; the record already caters to an acutely specific mood, so having a lackluster half just makes it more obscure. Still, for what it is, L’Autopsie Phenomenale De Dieu
has the goods to be extremely special to someone
; this is the stuff cult classics are made of. To whatever cult that is, though, I wouldn’t drink the punch.