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Circle and Mamiffer – Enharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ)

Ektro (CD)/SIGE (vinyl)

Circle and Mamiffer - Enharmonic IntervalsEnharmonic Intervals (for Paschen Organ) emanates rousingly from that sharply-scrawled nonplace where Magma meets Khanate, where touches of doomy martial pomp worthy of Coil at their most mordantly impressive march alongside the scuttling electrical signals of cables jumbling in decay and the dusty, keening grandeur of Dead Can Dance. In reality, while the hints and ghosts are there, this record sounds like itself far more than the sum of any references or echoes reverberating out from the works of other artists which might make themselves heard. The combination of Mika Rättö‘s operatic vocals with the slow-motion organ-led doom conjured up by Circle (in this instance the core duo of Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo) and Mamiffer is one of those musical meetings made almost self-evidently obvious by its stunning execution and supremely confident conjunction of two groups coalescing as one.

Recorded using the Paschen Organ in the central church of Circle’s hometown of Pori and with overdubs from Eyvind Kang‘s viola gracing the opening “Kaksonen 1,” Enharmonic Intervals is suffused with an often-interrupted slow grace which slips with all the accumulated passions the quartet can muster across the audible spectrum, from sharply-struck klang and drones of quite impeccably immense crypt-shaking depth to the intense vocal acrobatics which Rättö delivers to devastating effect. This is especially evident in the magnificent soaring arcs he attains on the industrial Baroque of “Mätäneminen,” undoubtedly an album highlight and worthy of JS Bach at his most sublime in its immensity. Occasionally it sounds somewhat as if Blixa Bargeld is straining his vocal cords in misanthropic harmony with the reeds and pipes – but no, it’s Mika Rättö, piercing eardrums and bringing to mind multi-tracked banshees as much as Diamanda Gálas at her peak of paint-stripping pique.

But again with the comparisons, which can only give hints at just how singular this record is, especially at volume. It’s certainly not casual listening, and perhaps not for the wary; it would be incredible to hear live in situ at the church in Pori, but until such a thing comes to pass, this will just have to do. Further good use could be made of this music on a horror film soundtrack, as the voices growl and roar with an anguish so genuinely heart-rending on “Parting of Bodies” that it’s enough to send the listener into those most dark and paranoid of places where the night of the soul is tormented forever. All of which may sound like hyperbole, but when the rumble of the organ pipes reach the threshold of the brown notes and the keening upper registers sussurate and shiver, it’s like being in the presence of elemental sonic forces as they parade the sins of humanity in musical form.

The quartet manage to do this without falling prey to the clichés of doom metal – though the appeal is similar, for sure, and there are chorale moments where it sounds like heavily-cowled monks are letting loose their mournful plainsong – all the while maintaining a delicious balance of tension and release. This is apparent in febrile juts of amplifier burn, or when ecstatic organ tones rise among the plucked guitar and otherworldly metallic scrapes to serve as a grounded ecclesiastical toehold on the familiar as Faith Coloccia‘s vocals soar over shimmering deserts where angelic wings flutter and The Master Musicians of Bukkake might be glimpsed treading the shifting psychedelic sands below.

Mammoth organ drones bring the album to a suitably trembling close on “Kaksonen 2 (Artemisia),” the presence of the church itself echoing among the voices of the unifed group members as they bounce vocals off the architecture. The mighty Paschen has the last tone, of course, shuddering to a halt with a final breath like an exhausted behemoth; but the good news is that there’s apparently more collaborations yet to come from Circle and Mamiffer.

-Antron S Meister-

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