Super Heavy Metal: Music for Cymbals

In what I'm presuming to be a tongue-in-cheek gesture, drummer Kim Åge Furuhaug (Young Dreams, Lars Vaular, Sondre Lerche) chose Super Heavy Metal as the nom de plume for his solo debut. True, some intense moments do arise during the thirty-minute release, but an album created using nothing more than the cymbal would seem to have a difficult time matching the levels of heaviosity associated with Slayer, Megadeath, and Metallica. There's nothing ironic about the title, however: Music for Cymbals is exactly what it claims to be.

Thankfully, the album, issued in a 300-copy vinyl run, doesn't feature Furuhaug performing a half-hour cymbals solo, which would wear out its welcome quickly, but instead presenting five multi-layered, patterns-based pieces rich in detail and contrast. Given the cymbal's limited melodic potential, rhythm naturally operates as the guiding principle, though Furuhaug does manage to generate a melodic dimension of sorts by exploiting the cymbal's pitch range; further to that, it becomes the percussive equivalent to a prepared piano when sticks, tape, rattles, loops, and effects are used to expand on its fundamental sound properties.

Escalating slowly in volume, ride and hi-hat cymbals build into polyrhythms in “One,” their thrust generating a good amount of swing in the process. Furuhaug holds the listener's attention by adding cymbal rolls, loud strikes on the ride's bell, and the muffled throb of a kick drum-like sound to the piece as its nine minutes advance, and what results ends up having more to do with krautrock than heavy metal per se. During “One” and “One-two” in particular, the material begins to suggest something akin to a classic Faust production stripped of everything but its percussive elements. Each of the five pieces individuates itself from the others in purposeful manner: during “One-one,” for example, cymbal accents punctuate an ever-growing fog, the dominance of the latter marking the piece as more industrial-ambient setting than percussion exercise; by comparison, “Two-two” repeatedly alternates between episodes of intricate patterning and high-energy propulsion to syncopated and even funky effect.

While Music for Cymbals has natural appeal for drum fanatics who like nothing better than to argue over the merits of Zildjian versus Paiste products, Furuhaug has crafted the material in such a way that one could easily imagine the release appealing to a larger group than a small fan base of obsessives.

April 2017