The first thing that struck me about this release was the artwork. It could be a Man Ray portrait; in some ways cinematic and evocative of times gone by, yet it also has this densely oversaturated texture which gives it a surreal, alien quality. A film noir classic that’s been played on VHS one too many times, churning up the image until you’re not sure whether you’re looking at a real face or some kind of synthetic reimagining.
Released on Knives, an imprint run collaboratively by Planet Mu’s Kuedo and Joe Shakespeare, ‘Organn’ is a tumultuous release. It takes inspiration from Isidore-Lucien Ducasse’s Les Chants de Maldoror, a poetic novel which was the only text released under his pseudonym, ‘Comte de Lautréamont’. Despite this it went on to be a major influence on the surrealist movement, cited by artists like Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp as well as Man Ray.
The book centres around Maldoror, a misanthrope and nihilist, who is described as “a figure of absolute evil” having “renounced conventional morality and decency”. Yet given these macabre themes as a starting point, ‘Organn’ is perhaps a more delicate and complex release than might be expected.
Some elements feel retrograde, as if you are viewing them through an opaque, sepia-toned lense, while others feel mercilessly future-oriented. ‘Consumed’ sees crushing waves of static-doused vocals reach rousing climaxes amid tortured strings and delicate piano tones, while ‘Languish’ puts an entire symphony through the compactor, expelling a jagged block of lurching modem grit and glitched-out heart monitors.
‘Asthme’ is perhaps the best example of the conflicted moods contained within the release. The ruptured thrusts of low-end which puncture the mix intermittently are nothing short of pure viciousness, as are the tinnitus-inducing blasts of distortion-cranked glitch. Yet there are mournful vocal manipulations and timid keys hidden amongst the chaos; hinting that maybe between the violence and despair, there is something more fragile and empathetic at play.