Kreng: Grimoire

If there is such a thing as a Miasmah sound, then Kreng's Grimoire, a black forest of film noir gestures, orchestral passages, and slowcore jazz, is as good a candidate as any to represent it. The eleven gothic chapters constituting Pepijn Caudron's Miasmah follow-up to his L'autopsie phenomenale de dieu are, if anything, even more macabre and cinematic than those on the Belgian sound sculptor's 2009 debut collection. Grimoire (the term, appropriately enough, refers to a black magic text used for invoking spirits and demons) is a relentlessly gloomy soundtrack in search of a film, though one would be hard pressed to locate one as claustrophobic and oppressive as Kreng's offering. The album moves from one setting to the next without interruption, with death marches, the moan of a soprano, nightmarish string glissandis, and the dust-coated plink of a piano as one's guides.

During “Karcist,” a dying creature drags itself across scorched terrain, with clanking noises audible in the background and speaking voices drifting through the air like hallucinations. Martial snares and the lonely honk of a bass clarinet add to the gloom of “Le Bateleur,” while some settings, such as “La poule noire,” move into a purer classical realm, the most extreme example of which is “Ballet van de bloedhoeren,” which features elegant Baroque music performed by a string quartet. Caudron exercises restrain in supplementing the piano with but a few atmospheric elements in sculpting the mood of dread, even threat, that permeates “Petit Grimoire.” One naturally thinks of Angelo Badalementi of Twin Peaks renown when the neo-noir jazz stylings of “Satyriasis” appear, in particular when its muted horn seems to vanish amidst the track's creeping flourishes of brushed drums, strings, and noise clusters. The album's noisiest moments emerge during the disease-laden waltz “Wrak,” where the dissonant shriek and wail of a saxophone is almost obliterated by crushing convulsions of noise. That the album ends in “Konker” with a violent gesture seems entirely in keeping with the mood of this deliberately disturbing work.

June 2011