Thrangh
Erzefilisch


4.5
superb

Review

by J.C. van Beekum USER (20 Reviews)
June 29th, 2020 | 7 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Exotic avant-garde music featuring a didgeridoo. Need you know any more?

If you search for Thrangh’s sophomore effort, the peculiarly named, Ezerfilisch, on Discogs you might notice something rather interesting. When attempting to define Thrangh’s playing style on this record, Discogs offers you the following enumeration of aesthetics: 'Alternative Rock, Funk Metal, Noise, Free Funk, Free Jazz, Punk, Avantgarde, Math Rock, Contemporary Jazz, Fusion, Free Improvisation, Hardcore, Jazz-Rock, Experimental'. That might appear somewhat excessive to say the least. A band must truly be exceedingly transdisciplinary to attain such an expansive list of characterisations. However, as far as Thrangh is concerned this prodigious amalgam of styles would be a fairly appropriate characterisation of their style, if not a little vague and bloated. If one had to distil Thrangh’s style in a more cohesive manner one could typify the band’s sonic palette as follows: an idiosyncratic combinations of avant-garde progressive rock, avant-garde metal, jazz fusion and free improvisation with hints of post-punk, brutal prog and funk. This vast array of styles is neatly reflected in the vast array of different and rather unusual instruments the band employs on Ezerfilish, so allow me to once again enumerate: Alessandro Bonanni on bass and (baritone) guitar, Tommaso Moretti on drums and Javanese gong, Fabrizio Colelli on guitar and guitar synth and last but not least Gabriele Mengoli on (deep breath), saxophone (alto as well as tenor), didgeridoo, bombarde (archaic aerophone) and coulisse flutes (slide whistle).

Now you might be wondering how this odd combination of musical tools is applied to produce a sound of such an aforementioned transdisciplinary nature. Here a confession must be made: an attempt to properly distil the absolute, unerring musical absurdity of Thrangh sound into to mere words is a daunting task that is bound to abortive. Partly, the music is so strange that simply formulating a state of visible confusing would constitute a fairly adequate description of the Thrangh’s sound. Their very obvious emphasis on rapid genre-jumping ala Mr. Bungle or John Zorn, as well as their equal fondness of off-kilter group improvisation are the most obvious ways in which their sound defies concrete textual portrayal. A perfect example of the unabashed quixotic character of the record is found on the album’s mammoth, eponymous title track. The song commences with something we could call ‘stereotypical Thrangh’: a meandering sonic journey through a rough musical landscape characterised by scintillating funky bass lines, syncopated percussion, odd tempo and time-signature changes, distorted guitars, ranging counterpoint, vociferous squawking saxophone and break-neck genre shifts. At points the instruments each seem to operate independently from one another within their own sonic dimensions, but this detachment can be precipitously upended as instruments suddenly coalesce into a cacophonous pandemonium. Another trick Thrangh like to pull off is to entirely deconstruct and derail a composition, shifting into interludes in a seemingly hackneyed manner or delving into an unforeseen crescendo. The aforementioned fourteen-minute title track contains the most explicit example of this as Thrangh allow the song to slowly devolve into what can only be described as an alien sound collage which is comprised of noises I’m not entirely sure can even be produced with the vast amount of tools that constitute Thrangh musical arsenal. After a few minutes, Thrangh slowly starts to exist this dark and twisted musical avenue and continuous reprising in an equally eccentric and bewildering manner, all of the musical themes identified above.

The record’s five interludes foster a musical mood not unlike the downright confounding musical abyss represented by the sonic derailment the title track offers. The rest of the record’s six tracks are in a way similar to the above mentioned titular homonymous cut, with their equally unpredictable and rapid recycling of a sheer innumerable quantity of musical ideas, although these sonic tales last a considerably shorter amount of time: each track encompassing a duration of roughly five minutes at most. Staccato call-and-response patterns, furious saxophone solos, intense slab bass and an overall incredibly thrusting progression allow each of these tracks to achieve a level of fantastical musical intensity and confusion. Although Thrangh does occasionally offer the listener a fleeting moment of reprieve, they are sure to unexpectedly rip the listener from that place of relative safety into another maelstrom of genre hopping, explicit virtuosity and spiralling instrumental improvisation. As far as the record’s production is concerned, one can be brief in one’s evaluation: it’s nigh-immaculate, allowing for a wonderfully roomy sound that allows each instrumental element its proper frequency space, it applies a decently polished treatment to the percussion and saxophone (and other instruments in for which Mengoli is responsible for), while adding a slightly more gritty non-pristine treatment to the distorted guitar and bass. In order words: the production perfectly, figuratively toes the line between polished clarity and intense grit.

Ultimately then, regardless of the frenetic and unpredictable character of this album, regardless of how mentally exhausting its instrumental interplay and extemporaneous musical progression may be and regardless of how quixotic its instrumental template is in general, this record is an undisputed masterpiece. Somehow Thrangh manages to make the unworkable work in a truly splendid manner and in doing so have crafted one of the most formidable avant-garde records of the 21st century. A true testament both to the incredible musical ability possessed by each of the musicians involved as well as an ode to the validity of applying a healthy dose of lunacy to your artistic process, Ezerfilisch is a perpetually intriguing, startlingly strange and indisputably impressive musical stroke of genius.




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user ratings (5)
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
MementoMori
June 29th 2020


779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hello potential visitor:

- Any constructive feedback is always appreciated.

- Have a taste: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLfFc5MUmDA





MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2020


679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yo, another great review for an awesome album! I remember this album being challenging af, it wore me down a bit. Need to revisit it a few more times I think.



Just a general bit of feedback for your reviews: I'd like to see you try to simplify your vocabulary a bit. If you use fancy words a touch more sparsely they tend to hit harder. Try proofreading your writing a few times over with a focus on eliminating anything unnecessary and you should pick up where it gets a little excessive.



Sorry I never got that detailed feedback for your Area review done, I've been busy. On the plus side, I listened to that album and it was wild, so cheers for the rec. Keep writing my g, love your work xx

Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2020


12678 Comments


Good review, love the fact that you're digging at some uncovered material in the site's database. Just to add to Milo's points (less a spray - going for constructive):

Why is "Alternative Rock, Funk Metal, Noise, Free Funk, Free Jazz, Punk, Avantgarde, Math Rock, Contemporary Jazz, Fusion, Free Improvisation, Hardcore, Jazz-Rock, Experimental." all italics, capitalised etc etc. I know you're referencing another media source (discogs) but is this really necessary to separate simple genre-naming in this way? Why not keep it simple as it's at odds with the next few instances of genre listing?

MementoMori
July 1st 2020


779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@MiloRuggles: It absolutely is challenging and it does probably require several listens to really sink in, I know it did for me. I was always convinced my reviews weren't even as excessively pretentious in that way (then again, I was comparing it to the average Jac review). I'll keep it in mind for sure. Area is wild indeed. Thanks for the appreciation also!

@Nocte: I suppose I was indeed attempting to indicate it was the Discogs summary, whilst also hinting at the sheer number of styles mentioned. Granted, looking back I think it was probably unnecessary. Thanks for the feedback and appreciation.

MiloRuggles
Contributing Reviewer
July 1st 2020


679 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think your writing is pretentious at all, it just can be quite exhausting processing so many technical words in a short space of time. Simplifying a touch can really draw people in, particularly with your reviews being relatively lengthy.

PS- I'm not trying to say "all your writing is like this, sort it out" or anything, it's just a small nitpick I thought might improve the solid foundation you've laid down

parksungjoon
July 2nd 2020


20869 Comments


pos'd

MementoMori
July 2nd 2020


779 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@MiloRuggles: Yeah, perhaps pretentious wasn't the right word there, but I do catch your drift. Usually my goal is to writer 1-page reviews but I always end up extending them. Nevertheless, I still appreciate the advise and I'll keep it in mind when revising old reviews/writing new ones.

@parksungjoon: Appreciate it my dude.



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