Review Summary: Trickle up, trickle down.Enough of Song
is an expansive work from Brattleboro, Vermont’s Cal Glover-Wessel, a.k.a. Azfarat
. The sound is a mosaic of industrial, noise, ambient, and ritualistic folk. With some noise-fusion acts, you can peg down their approach early on, but so much of Enough of Song
is misleading. Or, it operates under the guise of being misleading, and is in fact more forthright than one might suspect. Most likely, there are underlying themes of loss and ruination, but it’s articulated in a maze-like fashion. The lyrics often seem to contradict the songs, or serve as a red herrings, leading the listener to a concept that isn’t indisputably there. Content-wise, they can be obscene: “They Found Her Silent” speaks of sexual assault and victim-blaming. Elsewhere, Glover-Wessel comes off as taunting and meagre (on “Welcome, Sausage Legs”). “Main Street” seems aimlessly reflective. The dialogue acts as another instrument, rather than a vital literary device. “The Man Who Gave Us The Ocean” recounts a complicated relationship with a now-deceased grandfather: the memory probably doesn’t matter much, but the mention of ‘undertow’ is highlighted, particularly the line “it’s the exhaustion that kills you
” (when casually describing the insidious nature of struggling with swimming against strong currents). In a way, this is a self-aware summary of the album’s lyrical themes. It’s best to accept that there isn’t much continuity in this regard, and simply roll with them on a case-by-case basis.
The vocals across the tracklist are all quite different thematically, yet it’s the sonic elements that make Enough of Song
special. Much of what Azfarat constructs is understated. “If You Tell Them It’s a Delicacy, The Rich Will Eat the Trash Parts of the Animal” is a perfect example, as even the most subtle peripheral specs of noise feel essential. The song is framed by studious concentration, with concrete noises envisioning an office ridden with writer’s block, thick with frustration and procrastination. This is rudely interrupted with what is, in essence, the clamour of power electronics, but in actuality could just be cleverly-recorded rattling. Doppler-like car passings eventually give way to a gradual boil, choppy in sound but serene in effect. Enough of Song
treads close to ritual ambient territory with the sister tracks “Love is Grace Defined” (also the opener) and “Love is Grace”, both of which feature illuminating vocal performances from Kathleen Kennedy. At times, the album also calls to mind Theologian
; the opening track reaches for the “industrial static and distorted scream” trope a bit early on, but thankfully doesn’t rely on it. Some tracks brood in a cavernous headspace, where every thought bounces off the walls to a maddening degree. With “Welcome, Sausage Legs”, the words are pests that eventually disperse amidst high-pitched, staccato electronics before the song winds down with religious mantra.
Enough of Song
suffers under the weight of too many ideas, as do the efforts of many ambitious producers who shy away from blunt, aggressive p.e. in favour of more introspective yet unfocused work. It’s difficult to tie it all together in your head. There’s so much variation that many of the conceptual tidbits scatter like roaches when you turn on the lights. It’s elusive by design. There’s something captivating about an album that functions as noise music that pummels with less brute force, and as dark ambient that insists less on dark atmospheres’ effects on the mind and more on the mind’s projections into the atmosphere. This isn’t mastered; the lines could either be smoother and lend to the reflective quality, or bolder, creating a dadaistic collage similar to Nurse With Wound’s best material from the ‘80s, but with a more relatable depressive tinge. It has some of the nonsensicality of Steven Stapleton’s work, but erring less on the side of madness and more on indecisiveness. We also get nods to Throbbing Gristle
, in that it takes industrial noises and musique concrete that evokes an entirely different aesthetic when twisted a certain way (Throbbing Gristle
took eery factory sounds and created pornographic release; Azfarat, less interestingly, takes similar elements and creates vaguely sad monologues). The slightly cheeky spoken word use also reminds of Nocturnal Emissions
, but minus the ensuing visceral rock. Enough of Song
stands on the shoulders of giants but, in fear of sounding too derivative, takes off in too many directions at once. There’s plenty of promise here, though. Glover-Wessel just hasn’t found his noise yet.