ALUK TODOLO Voix – Vinyl LP (black)
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ALUK TODOLO Voix – Vinyl LP (black)
Pitchfork review :
During the last decade, the French power trio Aluk Todolo have used the basic instruments and fundamental techniques of hard rock and metal to pursue what may seem a musical unicorn—hyperkinetic, heavy instrumental music that’s meditative and absorbing. That is, they hope to produce a trance for the listener through sheer activity, with shifting rhythms and repeating riffs forming a sort of blanket of busyness.
In interviews and press releases, the former black metal dudes often speak about mysteries and mysticism, summonings and spirits, submitting to the music and sealing off the world. Maybe that sounds like mumbo jumbo or even sonic snake oil. But on Voix—the best and most incisive album the band has yet made—that last bit actually happens. Their carefully coordinated commotion becomes overwhelming and atmospheric somehow, a cocoon of activity. Not in nature but in effect, Voix feels meditative like Sunn O))) or Bardo Pond, Ash Ra Tempel or even Les Rallizes Dénudés. This is, as intended, music meant for submission.
The 43-minute Voix zigs and zags through six untitled, interlocking, and loud pieces. The songs are separated by, at most, a tension-ratcheting full rest, though many slide right into the next through beats that don’t shift and melodies that don’t stop. This maintains the athletic trio’s momentum but also the listener’s state of mind—you hang in this space with them, waiting for the next wave. Aluk Todolo achieve this fugue state by keeping up a sense of constant motion, even when they’re indulging in repetition. During the back half of the second piece, for instance, drummer Antoine Hadjioannou and bassist Matthieu Canaguier march dead ahead with the insistence of something like heavy metal krautrock. But some element is always morphing. Here, it is guitarist Shantidas Riedacker, dancing with his instrument and amplifier and sculpting several sheets of low-level feedback into a rainbow of musical grays.
More often, though, the trio slyly slips between disparate parts, webbing together separate elements with skills that suggest an interest in the symphony and perhaps the Grateful Dead. There is so much going on in these songs, with so many icons and influences distilled into each moment. But at their best, Aluk Todolo force you not to think about what they’ve heard in the past and what you may be hearing now. You notice the specific choices and changes less than the music’s overall embrace and intensity.
Voix will, no doubt, appeal to fans of Sannhet’s Revisionist, the 2015 album that best positioned itself at the restless, roiling intersection of heavy metal tenacity and post-rock sweep. Voix shares many of the same tones and feelings, and the French trio can be every bit as thrilling and heavy as their American counterparts. But there is an essential distinction: Where Sannhet’s music seems like a soundtrack to the city, where busily interconnecting parts score the machinations of some place that never sleeps, Aluk Todolo somehow offers a shield from much the same, a place to hide out while the band takes care of the busy work. How they do that, exactly, remains a little mysterious—maybe it’s those radiant, circular drones that sneak between the beats or the judicious repetition in certain parts. Either way, Aluk Todolo creeps closer to its goal of turning the combined swagger of rock and metal inside out without losing its essence than ever before on Voix. This band works hard so you don’t have to.