Summary: By The Throat shares its predecessor's menacing, sinister tone, but its atmosphere is so foreboding and the use of slashing dissonance within varied instrumentals is what makes it so gripping.
You feel that? They call it a pulse, the heartbeat, a complex course of outside influences affecting your body to show your internalized reaction to a situation. By The Throat plays out like the uncertainty of a anyone's reaction. And where Ben Frost gets it right is where it works the most - an almost dead calm within the structure of music brought to you by a few numerous sickly piano keys.
The oncoming storm of shit is headed towards him. He's isolated and paranoia sets in. The events set in the motion of this one decision is meaningless as your last action is what makes him the man he's perceived to be. A calm, a sense of disbelief is hinted within "Killshot", that is, between the rumbling shred that rises and recedes in mere seconds. The intro track plays out with its scathing electronic dread, mockingly beautiful piano within the heaps of chaos, something that flows so well within the entirety of the track. Frost's 2009 release surprisingly blends an even more darker album within By The Throat then he ever did in Theory of Machines. Acoustic guitar bellows, piano keys enter and wolves howl at the search of you.
They're on the move...
He hears them following his every footstep..tracking his every move. The howls they grow louder, his perceptions being to get clouded. He says to himself: Did they see me? Do they know? He doesn't care where he runs to, he just needs to run - away from everyone and everything, to stay safe, to be safe. Frost's By The Throat is curiously conceptualized within my head, an album that has a story, whether or not it was his aim or not isn't the point. The wolves howl is bone-chilling throughout "The Carpathians", however brief it stands up with "Killshot" almost as a roll of film, without a hitch they connect to each other - the sense of fear and general obscurity within the music. You can create a story within your mind, just imagine an act of evilness and you got it. Doesn't matter what it is, who it is, where it was, or why they did it. It fits the frame of this album. By The Throat balances those menacing howls, those screeching electronic movements, the quick, dark instrumentals of the violin and piano within a context of your story.
The machine barely keeps his victim alive. The gasps of air lie in wake of "O God Protect Me". Frost manages to allow his darkly cornered album some breathing room within a few spaces of the album. Tracks like "O God Protect Me" and "Untitled Transient" lend themselves to connect the other work within the album. The constant is by far the cold, harshness of the instrumentals. Most endearing is the sharpness of the violin with "Peter Venkman Part I". It sets the mood with the constant vocals that harmonize within the dreariness of the whole thing, but the ominous piano lying...stirring within the shadows is so damn perfect it makes your skin crawl.
Híbakúsja mimics an almost relaxed period within the beginning, but much like our protagonist..or antagonist (whichever you prefer), it ramps up into a ailing state of fear, dropping the guitar and adding panic breathes of a human being to add to the human drama and the makeshift suspense you've created in By The Throat. Ben Frost may be from Melbourne, but he seems intent on creating more northern ambient music that melds classically used instruments and industrialized electronic. It eventually becomes superimposed within the construct of By The Throat and its wonderfully done. The only thing you need to do is visualize the ending.
There is something beyond the horizon that resonates within Basinski's work. That shattered chord that bumped moved so eloquently without hesitation in Disintegration Loops I-IV was simultaneously ominous and sinister, while carrying an abundance of life. The decrepit , dying noises that offered long hours of loops that mimicked our deepest desires for tranquility while enjoyably injecting stirring developments of energy and death. What could be more human than this? Something that took 20 years to produce, not by choice or labor, but by the very thing that makes everything around us alive. Slowly we all fall apart and this is why Basinski's work seems to resonate more than most ambient artists. And while 92982 is beautifully constructed with its somber tone in an almost vindictive sense, its looping source of music still remains, what would seem cloaked and constructed is impartially represented. Another work of Basinski's past is pushed through and this once former crafted ambiance is all, but unrecognizable as it was when he made it on a cool stormy night in 1982.
92982, much like Basinski's past collections of work becomes ambivalent to the listener upon beginning listen; eventually the progressions within each track predominately ramp up on each other, creating a widely constructed, almost purposeful sense of feeling and mood. It seeps through within the loops, the repetitious, constant moving chord intertwined with almost-drowned piano keys in "92982.1". This is the beauty of the what makes these "works of nature" memorable. They take you somewhere, wherever you want to go. A dream-like manifestation is within his work, which creates its own persona for the listener. Whether it be on your bed - lying in a cool summer night waiting for your eyes to grow heavy or an aggressive storm waiting to engulf your city with every breath it takes. Basinski's latest work places him into a familiar category, an ambient loop with imaginative atmosphere, allowing the listener to dictate what they can mean. Its exceptionally light in duration compared to the mammoth The Disintegration Loops I-IV, but this doesn't take away from that previous construction.
Expressively moving at a snail's pace, "92982.2" continuously moves with a similar pattern - a jaded strike that sounds shattered and weak moves forward within the faded noises of rushing ambulances, airplanes overhead, phones ringing, and thunderstorms battering with the clap of lightning - a day in the life of a New Yorker one could say. Always moving, never stopping. Would this signal a typical night for Basinski 25 years ago? Outside his window in his apartment? Is this what 92982 is, a story? The Disintegration Loops I-IV are a gigantic work in terms of length and understanding, but 92982 is an easier mark. It feels almost normal, innate with the listener on what is truly happening, putting it simply it is one of his more accessible works as an ambient artist. This flurry of driven disorder within 92982 isn't crunched or topped on each other like his previous looping works (wherein they move into layers to create an almost profound and intense experience), but its extended into the space it is suited for. A chain of events within that night for Basinski, with the tape to prove it existed. Its conceptual structure is extremely noticeable on first listens and while 92982 is strikingly easy to understand, it moves deeper within the mind with every listen.
I'm not sure what to say about toe's sophomore release. Utter jubilation in most portions, but a tiny bit of disgust along the way. It's odd really, as what the group tries attempting is the logical step forward. A realization of incorporating new elements like the piano, electronic sequences, or vocals would of sufficed, but all of them? Some troubles surface, but for the majority of the time the improved guitar dynamics, hints of acoustic muddled within and drumming prowess carry this album, as it should, but only better than The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety.
Within a strict context of their debut, The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety is for the most part a free-form almost back-and-forth rhythm between the group; mainly showcasing the superb drumming of Takashi and his band mates Mino Takaaki and Yamazaki Hirokazu good guitar work. Comparing their previous efforts 4 years ago to For Long Tomorrow and you get a supremely more relaxed (if that wasn't already evident), mature group that limits Takashi's burden by spicing up the ferocity and dynamics of their guitar work. This works for the majority of the album, but something lingers and you notice it with the introduction of the vocal work. The vocal work is absolutely uneasy to sit through, while it is limited it's still there. Besides the small, shy female chorus on "After Image" and later the decent "Goodbye" it becomes quite forgettable. More specifically its tedious, unobtrusive and mediocre. Essentially it brings down what heights the album begins to achieve and it almost comes crashing down. While the vocal work was hinted beforehand with their New Sentimentality EP it begs a question to why they would introduce even more of it within this release? It feels uninspired, if not downright ignored by the listener and believe that statement.
This is all coming off a bit harsh, but the truth of the matter is toe have clouded the true or potential greatness that could of been For Long Tomorrow. Thankfully it doesn't detract from the album as a whole and the ordinary male vocals are only a few minutes. There's nothing more clear on this album than to see their guitar work has been put to the forefront. While they don't necessarily overshadow Takashi's work, as that would be highly difficult, but he eventually gets his shining moment in the end with "Long Tomorrow".
Enough of the single negative endeavor toe have managed to go belly-up on, the instrumental portions - latest additions included, are thoughtfully placed and paced. Also the bass by Yamane Satoshi has improved and tends to peak through some tracks like in "Shou***su Ten yo Fue", which adds a sprawling and much needed acoustic guitar in the mix. That clean guitar work on The Book About My Idle Plot on a Vague Anxiety isn't all gone, but fresh instruments do muddy it a bit, a fun addition when you listen to their debut and sophomore efforts back to back. "Esoteric" is the type of patience and maturity that toe have attained since 2005 and Takashi precise drumming is on point throughout the entire song. The channeling guitar work is placed perfectly and it's no wonder a 4 minute song sounds like so much more when it incorporates vague electronic tones in-between sessions of the music.
A much needed boost to their sound, the introduction to the rhodes piano and acoustic guitar add a bit of depth to what felt like a journey in a jam session a few years ago. The purely acoustic "Two Moons" is showcased upon a light vibraphone to add a lovely melancholy melody that picks up steam at times end. A track later "Mosukīton wa Mō Kikoenai #1", toe's first piano driven track, is used to bring a more relaxed feel eventually driving into a memorable outro with its second portion with Takashi finishing the work. Lastly, the track "Last Night" almost sounds like a jazz induced night session, but the entirety of the album is showcased by adding all of the new great sounds toe have put on here. The big thing about For Long Tomorrow is it's what most toe fans want, and they got, but while adding these elements toe have succumbed to some mediocre vocal work that for the most part doesn't belong.
For Long Tomorrow, for the most part is an improved band trying to experiment with what works. While the vocals within "Say It Isn't So" don't flesh out as they would of expected; the new introduction of sounds eventually shine through with "Last Night" and the jazzy "Our Next Movement" is altogether surprising, if not done very well. Toe have grown as well or at least branching out and that's what this album is about. For Long Tomorrow will probably become for Toe - a learning experience.