Published on Sunday, 18 September 2016 22:02
Album title: Samen
Release date: 21 October 2016
Label: Apathia Records
01. Rules Of The Show
02. Fucking Freaking Futile Freddy
03. Meow Meow Frrru
04. No Guts = No Masters
05. Bark City (A Glimpse Of Something)
06. Purple Tastes Like White
07. I Hope You Sleep Well
08. Well-oiled Machine
09. Chairleg Thesis
12. Hemn Be Rho Die Samen
Samen is the debut album from; öOoOoOoOoOo ('Chenille' in French or 'Caterpillar' in English). The unique fusion of avant-garde rock with too many genres and influences to list; a total mind-fuck of perfected abstract art, music and naked bodies. Full range female vocals, at times reminiscent of Evanescence and exceptional musical stylings take the listener on a journey through a schizophrenic multi-verse of experimental extravagance.
Where to start with this album...? Probably a good point would be at the beginning.
To be honest, when I first looked at the band name: öOoOoOoOoOo, I thought; what? "Oooooooooo" like a ghost sound or something... that's pretty lame. Then the album cover/booklet with naked bodies awkwardly lying on top of each other with "tasteful" full frontal nudity, a man with a very "suspicious" looking chest and odd, unnatural nude poses shot in what seemed to be a art gallery. I assumed this was going to be some overly pretentious, "artistic" nonsense; like Yoko Ono's (a'hem)... vocal "performance" in a gallery that I saw on YouTube. *See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdZ9weP5i68 (but brace yourselves, it's pretty bad; probably worse than bad).
The type of "art" only appreciated by anal-retentive c*nts who sip on overpriced sparkling grape juice at a modern art show while contemplating the intricacies of a large canvas painted solid black or attempting to uncover the "hidden meanings" behind a heap of rotting garbage piled up randomly on a marble floor. I was almost not even going to bother listening to it... but for some reason I grit my teeth and dived in with much hesitation; like eating snails or frog's legs for the first time.
Boy was I wrong... this album is a masterpiece! I was thoroughly seduced and taken full advantage of by this album. Now begins the long walk home from an unknown part of town with slight amnesia, a strange sense of accomplishment, several scratches/bruises, a backwards t-shirt, no money, one shoe and someone else's pants.
*I now realise the band name: öOoOoOoOoOo is a visual representation of a caterpillar. (duh!) Very clever, I like it!
I would describe Samen as; "a dark, sensual, operatic, schizophrenic pantomime with several simultaneous conflicting personality disorders and a disturbing inclination towards depravity, hysterical sex and hallucinogenic adventures of ethereal, psychotic abandon". I cannot speak highly enough of this album and I can only attempt to do it justice. You really should listen to it and find out for yourself. It's surprising that this is the first release from this band and they have certainly set the bar high for any future endeavours. I have not been so pleasantly surprised by the contents of an avant-garde album since I listened to Niandra LaDes And Usually Just A T-Shirt by John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers many years ago, though for very different reasons (Niandra LaDes is also thouroughly recommended, though VERY much an acquired taste like Captain Beefheart or something similar; either you'll love it or hate it).
There is never a dull moment on this record and songs will often finish with the listener wanting more... which is much appreciated by yours truly. As mentioned before there are hints of the band Evanescence as well as a section that reminded me of Destiny's Child of all things. There are many other notable influences such as; black/death metal, jazz, pop, RnB, punk rock, opera and many others all seamlessly executed within the one song. The music has an astonishing range of atmosphere with bubblegum pop catchiness fit for radio play and top 40 spots followed by crushing, dark metal sections that are easily on par with many well known metal bands. I think this is one of those albums that will be able to be listened to over and over again with something different noticed each time. Timeless though definitely a modern sounding album which should stand up to the test of time.
The star of the show is the insane temptress and lead vocalist extraordinaire; Asphodel, who I believe takes her name from Greek Mythology, specifically the 'Asphodel Meadows' as written of by the likes of Homer and also Oscar Wilde in 'The Picture of Dorian Grey'. Legend has it that the Underworld of the Greeks is divided into several realms one of which being the Elysium; a place reserved for demigods, heroes such as Achilles and mortals of exceptional virtue such as Socrates who are chosen by the Gods as adequately righteous to enter the realm. The lesser mortals of poor morals are sent to Hades by the river Styx to receive eternal punishment based on their earthly indiscretions. The Elysium is a heavenly realm to be enjoyed by the virtuous in the afterlife where the Asphodel flower grows in the meadows and lives eternal. The schizophrenic, shape-shifting vocals of Asphodel effortlessly change through many different styles and characters throughout each track with impressive, elegant and at times disturbing delivery than would leave many vocalists feeling quite inadequate. She is able to pull off any vocal style it would seem with equal effectiveness, rigor and precision while seeming quite carefree about it all. Her vocals are very emotive and can be either filled with beauty and grace, or rough and tumble like a pug dog's face... ugly in all the right ways. A true artist and a truly brilliant singer/writer.
Behind Asphodel (former Pin-Up Went Down singer) is the ever-evolving music of multi-instrumentalist; Baptiste Bertrand and session drummer; Aymeric Thomas (Pryapisme) who both contribute with perfection to the demanding song structures and mood changes. The atmospheres they create are excellent and perfectly match the vocals. The range of musical styles are nothing short of miraculous. The guitar playing and drumming are both tight and catchy when needed with captivating grooves and rhythms then instantly switching to brutal and crushing riffage and blast beats when the metal is busted out. The use of synths and textural ideas really make the music special. Also deserving a mention is the producer/mixer/mastering engineer; Germain Aubert of Black Bear Studios in France. The album production is brilliant with a very clean sound, excellent instrument separation and a great overall soundscape that would give most big budget pop records a run for their money. This record must have been quite a headache to mix with all the constant mood changes and dynamic range, but Aubert has pulled it of with a very professional finish.
This album is more like licorice or marzipan than chocolate; by which I mean that almost everyone likes chocolate; not everyone likes licorice, but those who do REALLY like licorice! I would recommend this album to anyone; but if you just don't "get it", then I feel sorry for you and you surely missed out on something great. The licorice caterpillar that is Samen is set to be released by Apathia Records. Make sure you get a copy!
Review written by: Evceles