Friday, December 14, 2012

Live Review: Matryoshka - Laideronnette

What is Matryoshka?

They're those adorable increasingly-little Russian nesting dolls:

I used to have one that went through animals: elephant, cow, pig, sheep, chicken, mouse? Something like that.

It is also a popular vocaloid song:

That's a pretty good song, but it's got nothing on the songs by the actual relevant Matryoshka.

That's these guys:

Here's their

These guys are what I'd call an "ideal band". Like Lil B or Everything is Made in China before them, it's just something that sounds way way way too good to be true on paper and then, at least for me, manages to surpass even these lofty expectations. On paper this is a Japanese duo with a crazy aesthetic named after a Russian thing and they sing in English. And all their stuff has awesome titles. It turns out they absolutely nail this aesthetic, their lyrical work comes from a fascinating lyrical voice and warrants serious discussion and holy cow the music itself is often just disturbingly beautiful. Like you listen to it and you're sort of freaked out that something this good exists.

I first heard Matryoshka on Midnight Snacks, when he played " Viridian  (Crescent Version)" of the remix album Coctura. Blown away would be, I think, a massive understatement. This is probably Matryoshka's most exciting track. You know how a lot of songs feel like they're on "the edge" of something? Like the song is all about situating yourself in that moment before climaxing? Well, this song is like TAS runs of F-Zero GX where you keep falling off the edge to build speed. This is, by the way, the greatest metaphor in the history of musical criticism.

Anyways I was pretty impressed and got their stuff (pirated, natch, but I do own both CDs of theirs in the flesh now. It took a lot of work to get them, and I'm very happy to have them.) thinking it'd be like, really really good Japanese climaxcore IDM, probably on the tier of world's end girlfriend. But oh no. I listened to the original Viridian, off Zatracenie, and the moment at 40 seconds in, when... well, you ought to just listen to it, but it was like if you cut to Captain Falcon in the interior of his car having a Asano-esque existential breakdown. I was like, okay, yes, this is something special for me. Now I'd say both albums are like... top 10 material, top 20 at least easy. "Tyrant's Musical Garden" I'd happily put in my top 10 songs.

And now their new album is out!

Yeah! and here we go with my real-time thoughts!

Matryoshka - Laideronnette

1. Monotonous Purgatory
Awhile ago they put out some demos of the new tracks, this was one of them, so I have a preview. These wind sounds are new but ah yes, this piano intro I know very well. I think they actually released the final version with a music video but I only watched it once, spoilers and such, you know. I didn't listen to the "album preview" thing either which sampled all the tracks. Anyways this song is fantastic and I already know that. The beginning really shows the "Matryoshka formula" if I wanted to be so cruel to call it that: piano into strings into some sort of... just stunning scraping-thud beat from Sigur Ros's golden days mixed with a simply implacable aesthetic, vocals come in and everybody wants to cry then everything goes "stirring mode" and - this is my favorite part - a drum kit inevitably works its way in, somewhere between garage and military. Ah, yes. The formula is "get beautiful instruments doing beautiful things" and "establish a unique and enthralling aesthetic through other elements". So formulaic! I have to give special attention to just the sheer thrill I get when the violins double speed as they octave up right before the big swole chords. Wow, just wow. And and and at 4:20ish, when that fuzz just covers the track like softly fallen snow... And the two-layered vocals, I cannot overstate how good Calu's vocals are to me. And oh man this outro, the bells, the static, the distance/warmth duality, like some shade of gray suggesting both black and white oh man this album's gonna be good. ***

2. Noctambulist
Like somnambulist I guess. Appropriate night sounds and then WOW this piano, WOW. Why is their piano tone leagues better than every other piano tone? SAME WITH THIS CELLO TONE. It's as warm as the words "cello tone". But then... this electronic sort of scattering? Glitching out I'm tempted to call it but it seems so much more refined than that usually implies, so much more deliberate. These breathy vocals just ringing out, the pulling and stretching of tones over breakbeats WWWWOW. And then the descending scale, at 1:20 I just about passed out, s2bg. The feeling of pulsing in everything besides the piano line which then implies a sort of pulsing, and then oh geez at 1:50 this REALLY ISN'T FAIR, the way they can just swell again, and then the massive deflation, or really more "airing out" afterwards, amazing. My head swims. There's like a macro pulse of swell-breath that fits with the micro pulse along the vocals etc. Wow these violins in the like, sour-sweet highs of their register... and then back to just night sounds at the half way point OH MAN. Piano on just pulsing chords, wow, wow. That works so so well, and the cello just meandering it's way up there like if someone from ASMZ got undepressed, all of these strings just so warm and sorrowful AND HERE WE GO WITH THAT DRUM KIT, still my favorite instrument in the Matryoshka toolkit. Wow this is just straight climaxwave, I am more than happy with that, I am way way more than happy with what this is building too and the process of it building. Drums hitting that double time. And Wow 5 minutes in we hit yet again the high point of possibly their career. This is just way way way too exciting. The piano hitting chords in there is such a nice touch man, how do they do that so perfectly? I like that we're spending a good amount of time right on the summit of the mountain, there is a nice view and a stirring breeze, and now I think the outro will be like, yup, just like... turning around and watching the sunset. Wow. But it isn't a total diminishment see they still keep the tension and volume of the climatic part, too clever. Back to night sounds. Good. Good stuff. Really. Wow. Did I mention how well done these night sounds are? That's like the best cricket sound I've ever heard. ****

3. Sacred Play Secret Place
This title is like a mum title and this song sorta sounds like a mum song. The strings and such y'know, very nostalgiawave. What is she singing in, Latin? Or am I crazy? "I will be gone before long" nah English I just gotta like work at this for awhile, or wait for my copy to come with liner notes. I love that little like, dancing upper string line with the vocals and the warmth, that incredible warmth on the bass. At 2 minutes we get a really really nice retreat to solo piano, like, this sort of structure of everything being introduced and then sorta being spotlighted and the way they all come in at once, wow, and some of these little looped lines are like... Yume Nikki soundtrack tier? Nah much much better actually lol. At 3 minutes now we get... some real tension emerging AHA THE DRUM KIT, tybg, wow, fantastic. This thing sounds very chamberish, very bedroom, but you get these wonderful flourishes that connect it to the big big world outside. The title seems very appropriate. Like the place you find when you're a kid amongst trees or something somewhere and you're like, yeah, this is my spot right here. In this spot I have actually found nature, this is where I am truly out of doors. Sacred play man what a concept. And this ending is absolutely perfect of course, wow, at 4:30ish the whole thing gets this wonderful little tone shift to give it a fading retreating feel and the VERY END, solo piano so far up into the glassy music box range, amazing. ***

4. Instant Immortal
Huh film reel sounds, is this the idea behind the title? What's that Woody Allen quote? This is interesting, though, sounds... almost like something Shaft would do? OH MAN. How can you describe what it sounds like 30 seconds in? Static insects. Made of... Concrete. Ashtray Butterfly or something. And then the vocals coming in wow. This is just a whole study of aesthetics. The way that buzzing sort of goes tonal and loudens and then buzzes out is just a whole other business. And oh man backing choir sounds is this the first time that's been busted out this album? Very well done. I gotta call out specifically the big stomping beats too, so so heavy, and then this breakdown about halfway through into water sounds, wow, immortality of water or something, WOW, the intro back in works so well. Now an ascending feel instead of a descending one. The whole song has been given a sort of conversational feel, proposal then rebuttal. I dunno the vocal-only lead in of the second half suggests that to me. Oh man is that the briefest hint of ACOUSTIC GUITAR I detect? Or or harpsichord? These little wisps of things like that during the climactic parts wow it's magic, it's like... Asano does this sort of stuff in his art a lot. I'm thinking about him a lot 'cause I just scanned Punpun 11, get hype, etc. And wow yes this outro is just pure magic. This sudden swelling, churning feel, it is pretty Shaft-like too, wow, this doubling back, this folding. WOW. ***

5. Cut All Trees
Wow this is a sad sort of feel. ASMZish really. But a little too active for them I guess? These vocals wow so hazy, so distant and yet so immediate. How far away is fog from you? That sort of thing. This song is like straight-up sad man I don't know how to deal with this. And these two piano melodies, this sounds like... a really good Final Fantasy track for some sort of wood where something vaguely sad is happening, or going to happen. There's that unbelievably warm cello again. There's that fear again, coming through the trees this time, to paraphrase mum's "Land Between Solar Systems". But wow at 2:10, wow, and then that dissonant bend, what are we, world's end girlfriend? But yes the tension building here is palpable. WOW at 2:50. And the way the piano boldens right before the other stuff comes in, WOW. The song structure here is so so interesting. The strings right up in the screech range wow and then at 3:50ish here this WHOLE NEW THING that doesn't feel new but just RIGHT. I love this piano line though. And then these swelling strings, oh wow, wow wow. This whole melody is just so so interesting. With the piano and such oh wow, like, I really can't say much about this, it is just too overwhelming at this point. The thing at 5:20 though, that sort of sub-resolution to this little fugue, I just have to say that made me laugh out loud in utter disbelief at how well done. AND OH MAN THIS ENDING TOO. smh way too good tybg. ****

6. Butterflysoup
This is an interesting title and this is an interesting sound. Forestsounds over total like... BoC/Flashbulb soundcore sorta stuff. The way this stuff unravels into a melody is about the most fascinating thing for me in music. I love these vocals, does that even need to be said? I love this sort of light crunching... crispy beat? And the upper tones over... AH YES THE DRUMS HERE WE GO. Wow. This feels like a new beginning, like, the beginning of part two of the album. We're halfway through, after all. That was a good drum break. But yeah some of these noisey sounds I would listen to by themselves for long periods of time like this sort of ignition-sorta sound I can't begin to describe, what the hell is that? It's so intriguing. But yeah they're doing this thing they do a lot where they like... they get this one really wonderful intimate aesthetic, and on their first album they woulda just left it at that usually, but then they just give it the ol' WORLD WIDE REMIX this time, and the whole thing balloons out, into-and above your brainspace, it's just... stirring is an understatement. This is shaking. I'm shaking. Man that drum kit man that outro, they're just doing everything right all the time at this point. ***

7. Hallucinatory Halo
This is another one the demos previewed. It's pretty excellent. I love the very fast scattering type sounds, this one seems both like, excessive, indulgent and yet very reserved. There's so many dualities to this band how do they manage it? How could they possibly? And the duality here of fast elements and slow elements and yet everything seems to be moving at the exact same rate, how could that even be possible? It really seems hallucinatory. And yeah this glisses, now doubling over on themselves, that's just... dang. Absurd. Too good. TYBG. I wish this was way, way longer, even if it was just looping. And oh man the strings here, like daggers pointing down from heaven. Wow. **

8. Oblivion
This was also in the demos and OH MAN, if I talked in nonsense about static/fuzz type sounds before then the beginning of this makes me want to just spout utter gibberish. Seriously, it is, wow. And then this wonderful churning plodding yet uplifting soaring sort of sound, like, what is that, climbing mountains through cloudbreak after cloudbreak, nah, there is straight up no physical analogue. "I always struggle to" something something sounds good. But wow yeah like, fuzz, strings, piano, then BOOM, at 1:30, that is another new high water mark, I swear, this is doing crescendocore in a brand new way which is pretty amazing since the only previous way was invented by GY!BE over ten years ago. Wow the sort of crying/screaming feel, it's a duality of strength/fragility, like... Alice Glass? Hmmm. I really can't get enough of that piano. This is so so powerful, so... naturalistic on one sense and yet so elaborate, so grand. And oh man the transition at 3:40ish is one of my favorites, when I heard that on the demos I just flipped out. And again at 4:00, just BOOM. Way too good. Way too way too good. Almost like a parody of goodness. Like over the top quality. Here's my favorite part when the drums come in and you get a new sense of beat to a very sweeping feel. That's just my favorite thing they do period, maybe. ****

9. Niedola
XHIlegykdgewhlrydkwfgkwedhfrwdiednwe frwlfur rfhulwjrhe fhurf5hf8j43hf jkljderferf75e4fr54e5rf is how I feel about the sort of sounds at the start of this song and how the little three-note piano thing comes out of them. They have moved into a very pure aesthetic for these closing tracks I feel, a return to the real Matryoshka aesthetic. I love it. The sort of electronic/string duality with the sort of interstellar coldness/warm fire duality that is just implacable, not even ballparkable. And then wow at 1:50ish this sort of hypnotic looping melody, wave sort of feel. Amazing. Seriously, wow, I think I am being stunned into silence here. I feel there is an unresolvable duality on just her very voice of being both immediate and distant and I cannot rectify it into words, it is almost frustratingly beautiful, I think here I have been told to invoke the term "sublime". ****

10. Gentle Afternoon
I listened the hell out of this on the demo and since the demos were alphabetical it was the first track. The swelling on the opening notes is... "Motion Picture Soundtrack" tier. I don't know if I could ever say more than that. Everything else seems to be said by the title. Yeah uh I'm just going to listen to this, no comments, sorry. OK well I have to mention that 3:30 just blows everything else the band has ever attempted out of the water right out of the Earth's gravitational pull. This is also true for 5:30 which blows 3:30 out of the water. Also this ending contains the new pinnacle of climaxcore, now known as pinnaclecore. This is better than everything. *****

Closing thoughts etc

AOTY OBVY. Every track amazing. I was terrified about the idea of some tracks feeling "filler"y but nah, not even close. Zatracenie was way more minimalist and I kinda miss that. Like I'd say "My Funeral Rehearsal" and "Tyrant's Miniature Garden" combined had less going on than any one of these songs. This is a pattern you see in a lot of bands, really. First they just sort of have song ideas and these become songs, but eventually they get so good, have so many tricks up their sleeve, that they can do like a million other things to each song idea before it becomes song. There's tons of examples. So on one sense this stuff makes the songs way better and way more interesting and beautiful, but there's a certain like... certainty you can have when listening to a more minimal song that it starts to lack. Like when I listen to "Tyrant's Miniature Garden" for the thousandth time there's a certain sort of intimacy... I don't mean like an aesthetic intimacy, I mean like you feel very well connected and you understand every element down to the tiniest detail. Hey now that I think of it this is probably more a property of having listened to it a thousand times than any actual songwriting element...

But yeah recently I put together a "Top 100 Songs of ALL TIME" list that I've been plugging away at and this really screwed me over on that. Oh well. These will just have to be saved for V2.

Next I think I should listen to those new Burial singles. Wowwww a lot of good music is coming out isn't it?

Anyways hey look content on the blog!

Actual content actually being posted to my blog! What a concept!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review! Listened to their new album and didn't hesitate to get the physical CDs shipped over.