Kreng: L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu

Though L'Autopsie Phenomenale De Dieu is less “dark ambient” and more “cinematic collage,” the beguiling debut album by Kreng (Pepijn Caudron) is a natural complement to Miasmah's other experimental electronic releases. As such, it hardly surprises that many of the album's eighteen pieces were created for a host of stage productions, including Belgium's Abattoir Fermé theater company. In simplest terms, the album is a sample-based, fifty-five-minute collection of brooding moodscapes within which a plethora of diseased and diverse sounds swim—think of it as film noir transcribed into nightmarish and dream-like aural miniatures that Caudron stitched together to form a singular patchwork.

Given the album's sound, many of the artists Caudron acknowledges as influences could be predicted—Bernard Herrmann, Miles Davis, Murcof, John Zorn, Dictaphone, Charles Mingus, John Cage, Duke Ellington, Coil, J.S. Bach, sci-fi film composers—but, interestingly, absent from the list is a name his music often evokes: Angelo Badalementi. Many of Caudron's creepy tracks include a piano lounge trio from hell, classical music samples, as well as anguished vocal noises that emerge like phantoms struggling to escape the realm of the unconscious, crying sounds (courtesy of Kirsten Pieters—and when was the last time you saw crying receive an album credit?), and the warble of a classical vocalist rehearsing amidst the crackle of decaying vinyl and excerpts of film conversations. Herrmann-esque clarinets, the stampeding rumble of a drum solo, the scrape of violin, the atonal plunk of piano, and funereal gloom of a horn section surface at one time or another, while Lester Bowie's smeared trumpet bleats against a softly clanking gamelan pattern and testifying female blues singer in “Tinseltown.” Caudron smartly adopts a slightly more restrained style in the six-part, largely orchestral suite, Suite Voor Scenes Met Mist, which closes the album, and arranges a mini-orchestra of instruments into a moving, eighteen-minute set-piece. A suite of many moods, it cloaks funereal pounding rhythms in a black shroud (“Mythobarbital”) before shuddering strings and murmuring voices offer a moving lament (“Nimmermeer”) followed by the warble of an opera singer (“De Storm”) and high-pitched strings (“Merope”). Needless to say, Kreng's collection, like others in the Miasmah catalogue, is disturbing in an entirely welcome way.

July 2009