Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Day Of the Demons - Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer

Day Of the Demons

Charlemagne Palestine & Janek Schaefer
Desire Path Recordings.

SCQ Rating: 71%

In a narrative explaining the creative process of their challenging but wholly one-of-a-kind Day Of the Demons, Charlemagne Palestine and Janek Schaefer were “howling through the void” and making “a cocoon for the listener to hide in”, respectively. The goal behind these efforts, that being “to ward off the demons for the sake of the listener”, can be better understood through any of the following three investigative tasks: (1) Buy the 12” vinyl and, if you’re within the first 500 to do so, marvel at the Demon Mask included, (2) Download Day Of the Demons onto your iTunes or what-have-you and note that the full-length’s genre is listed as “Ritual”, or (3) Just listen to it.

Even if the back-story feels weighed down in supernatural hocus-pocus, be warned: the music sounds frighteningly on-point. These two, twenty-minute drone-pieces that form the collaboration between Charlemagne & Janek Schaefer don’t score the solace of being ‘demon-free’, so to speak, and instead capture an intense and disturbing struggle to survive unscathed. The lead-up to this battle for the soul, “Raga de L’apres Midi Pour Aude”, works as a sort of establishing shot, instilling a buzzing drone with patient bell tolls and old-world voices singing and chanting over one another. Although certainly eerie, Side A encompasses not only a world away from our listening spot – one that sounds ancient, everlasting and is therefore thought-provoking – but also a cultural and religious hotbed of unknown origin and doctrine.

So when “Fables From a Far Away Future” takes us into the streets – replete with outdoor field-recordings and chatter drifting in and out – the ritual feels pretty well wrapped up. But what happens next? I can’t be sure but Side B of Day Of the Demons sounds very much like an exorcism from within. Layers of tense synths overwhelm, consolidating and descending upon the listener in swarms, before a child-like toy-box melody – yeah, nothing creepy about that – brings relief to the feverish climax.

Day Of the Demons is more convincing in its ability to construct dream-space than it is as a practical listening experience, which is a compliment because I’m basically saying the record should be felt more than it should be heard. I don’t expect many drone fans to be jamming to Day Of the Demons in the grocery aisles because its intensity weighs more appropriate for a sit-down event than for routine errand running. Like a quality scary movie night, Day Of the Demons should be saved for special, um, ritualistic occasions.

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