Review Summary: Juxtapose this.
The streaming improvisational consciousness of two artists is always a pretty thing to unfold, and it doesn’t always work. It’s a pretty thing to bear witness to the differing styles blend, and how they react to each other. And it doesn’t always work, be it the styles being too jarring together, and too boldly incompatible, or the styles being too similar to really make a distinctive collaboration. When the noise juggernaut Lasse Marhaug brought the ethereal post-rock musician Leslie Low into the fold, the stark contrast of Marhaug’s harsh and discordant noise against Low’s lush acoustic arrangements doesn’t exactly paint a perfect picture in-mind. The final result is far from perfect, but it works dynamically on several levels, bringing the listener nigh on thirty-five minutes of disorienting and tasteful noisy drone music.
Juxtapose this: screeching electronics, glitchy and dark, shivering bone with crackling dissonance. Thick guitar notes being strung along as the sounds drone on and build an atmospheric feedback, reverb heavy and swirling disdainfully around uncertain patterns of noise. Pan Gu’s Primeval Man Born of the Cosmic Egg
lives these opposites through and through, and during its runtime, it tries to re-imagine the same stark contrast of sounds along post-rock build-ups and come-downs; and it does so over and over. Of course, it’s all improvisation, neither musician knowing quite what they were doing, bouncing their ideas and melding their minds with each nuance of sound in an able-bodied collection of experimental tracks.
The album doesn’t grind long enough to get tedious, and Marhaug’s palette of improv noise is remarkably wide, taking the music to new heights with all manner of sounds and deep, pulsing, horrifying electronics. The track ‘Eggs and Emptiness’ sitting as the album’s closer, and perhaps the most subtly intense and most successful track. While the rest of the album tries to attempt the harshness of the noise slowly being realised with an ambient partner in sound, it still feels experimental
. This track ‘Eggs and Emptiness’, is where the two artists really seem to find their niche in this style, where they no longer seem to feel as if they're simply experimenting. The noise isn’t overbearing, and the collections of sounds really build a dank mood, while the ambience flutters through almost silently and holds it all together. Towards the end of the track, faint strings can be heard below the droning, painting a retro atmosphere with the almost-ragtime piano that chimes in right before the album closes, off-kilter and utterly nightmarish
In the end, Primeval Man Born of the Cosmic Egg
is an engaging listen, and it keeps itself fresh. It doesn’t re-invent the wheel, but to hear these two musicians collaborate on such a morbid release is intriguing, to say the least. Being the duo’s second improvisational collaboration (the first being a live effort), Pan Gu’s debut is admirable, and one would hope to see more from them in the future.