Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wrnlrd - Oneiromantical War (FSS, 2008)

It's past three in the morning on a rare foggy night in Los Angeles. The rest of the city is sleeping. The Wild Turkey is slowly taking its effect. The perfect time for the narcotic buzz of Oneiromantical War, the sixth album by Arlington, VA's one-man band Wrlnlrd. Claw away at its scaly skin of muffled guitar fuzz and you'll find a few competent old-school black metal riffs to latch on to, but that's not the point. Like fellow USBM bachelor Xasthur, Wrnlrd's lack of directness is an important part of his aesthetic, perhaps the important part. Drums are buried deep when they appear at all; tape hiss crackles like fire, enveloping the "proper" instruments; wordless vocals, spontaneously crafted, phase in and out of audibility.

Wrnlrd - "Silent Command"

Mostly bereft of the visceral power of black metal, Oneiromantical War operates on psychic levels instead. A Pitchfork interview from earlier this year revealed that Wrnlrd intended the first half of the album to represent a five-stage process of oneiromancy (predicting the future through dreams) applied to combat. Starting with the whooshing winds of "Nighthole," moving on to the throttled thud of "Silent Command" and ending with "Haxanic Stairway"'s tangle of sound samples, choked ambience and acoustic guitar tumbleweeds, the five-song sequence sure sounds like a complete, full-circle cranial excavation.  

Wrnlrd - "Haxanic Stairway"

The final track "War," then, is the post-excavation readout -- a Frankenstein suturing of all the sizzling mid-range and industrial ambience of the rest of Oneiromantical War. Wrnlrd's woozy chanting and acoustic brambles abut some nasty black metal sections, blanched out by Wrnlrd's fidelity-free sunsplat recording.  The whole thing has the flavor of suspended horrors and half-forgotten nightmares. Thankfully not yours.

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