Posted on Jun 21st 2010 12:40 am
Half Nelson Courtship
Rune Grammofon 2010
09 Tracks. 42mins29secs
Half Nelson Courtship is a strange beast, an uneasy creature that seems happiest cleaving to the shadows. Some of the time it’s half there, half not – like a trick of the light spied only by looking obliquely away from the subject. Puma is Øystein Moen (synthesizers and electronics), Stian Westerhus (guitar and electronics) and Gard Nilssen (drums). Half Nelson Courtship is their third album and first for Rune Grammofon.
Opening track Bison Woven is tremendously febrile, Westerhus’ guitar tracing out a wavering threnody against Moen’s subdued murmur and Nilssen’s distant cymbal plash. The title track expands on the group’s sonic palette with scratches and buzzes, screeches and hums before viciously thrusting the listener’s head into a heavy metal improv soundworld terrorised by angry banshees. At its most intense, Puma’s music is the equal of the likes of sunn o))) or Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Last Waltz does precious little waltzing, it seems to echo around the listener as if heard within a deep cavern, water dripping from stalactites forming an odd arrhythmia. Again, Westerhus’ contribution is notable for its chilly feverishness. M.E.O.W. grates the ear with contorted whines and screams as Nilssen batters the drums into the middle distance. This is an electric cat with bad spelling. The much longer Innamorati Osculati touches grandeur with its long-drawn out notes.
Half Nelson Courtship sounds like a strange new beast, its lack of any obvious pigeonhole underlining its distinctiveness (a facet further emphasised by the oddness of the track titles – Gaberdine Lingerie anyone?) The music is ascetic in its approach – it clearly emanates from the dark ages, the tenth century probably. Impressive though these recordings are, this is sublime music surely best heard live in a blackened pit of a venue.
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