This tribal/industrial Canadian group has been around since 2009. Having, regrettably, no prior exposure to their oeuvre, I was stunned by the varied richness and the grim appeal of this 14-track masterwork that respects no boundaries or genres as it free-forms each song and crosses through every electronic musical category.
The album opens with “Million Year Echo,” featuring a persistent EBM groove that is interrupted by odd, sci-fi imbued samples that seem to emerge from a desolate, post-apocalyptic soundscape. It is followed by “Stygian,” a seven-minute, plodding, whip-cracking zombie march overlaid with harsh, hoarse male vocals. Several tracks take the listener on a techno-industrial visit to the Middle East, complete with synthetic versions of Arabic instrumental accompaniment, sacred-sounding male vocals as well as sensuous, almost erotic female vocals. Synthetic versions of everything from the Australian aboriginal didgeridoo to bongo drums are present.
“A Tale Of Two Wolves” is a techno-industrial track that renders it easy to imagine a pair of canine predators loping through the forest in single-minded pursuit. “Black Lodge,” the track that follows, is a slow-paced trudge through a nightmarish dystopia, narrated by a desperate and hostile speaker, while merciless mechanical noises pound out a cadence and are joined by a mournful male chorus. I particularly enjoyed “Papa Legbo” with its ominous “the natives are restless” beat and intermittent chants.
In addition, there are frenzied hand-drum ensembles; eerie female a capella singing; languid but delicious, acoustic guitar riffs; ominous vocal narratives; and echoes of various genres including Scandinavian darkwave, aggrotech and even a piece, “Terra Sapian,” featuring ultra-fast-paced “swing” beats. The poignant “Girl With No Hands” is a pessimistic and frankly psychotic poem with groaning choral and emotionally delicious strings plus prominent percussion. In the eighth track, “It Is As Blackness Is,” an eloquent lecturer recommends philosophical acceptance of “a new dark age,” as a relentless EBM groove suggests the relentless march of Time.
The album ends on an aquatic theme, “Poseidon,” featuring the seductive sirens’ call on vocals and electro-symphonic instrumental accompaniment. The majority of tracks, if not all, are eminently danceable. In fact, I dare any listener to sit still while hearing these infectious and hypnotic rhythms as I tried to do when writing this. Aptly named, “Fables” transports the listener into a fantasy realm of myths, seductive melodies and mesmerizing rhythms.
In A Word: Bountiful