Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Some people might think of the English darkwave band with such hits as “If You Leave.” Some might randomly associate the British spelling with the similarly British spelling of France’s Chaos Echoes new release, Mouvement. Regardless, bands can be connected across genres, right? Certainly we can see some connection between the stalwarts of classical movement, particularly say opera’s King of the libretto Wagner and Captain of the 20th century comparative musicology, Mr. Béla Viktor János Bartók and Kirk Hammett’s solos across Ride the Lightning.
Sure, on the surface it really makes no sense to open a review of death/doom peddlers Chaos Echoes by talking about dark-wave bands other than the new Chaos Echoes having the title Mouvement which is vaguely reminiscent of the aforementioned band. But, maybe it’s not that far-fetched. Bands who like to experiment would probably find comfort in each other’s boldness. There would be long cuddle-sessions under the sun as the bands studied the transition of The Pacific Age into Sugar Tax. The would take long baths spinning Transient and comparing it’s raw harshness to the more polished electrical storm of Mouvement. Or, maybe we should be throwing this entire idea out with the bathwater and just talking about Dead Can Dance.
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions.
Further figuring into the jazzy experimentation is the seamless blending of tracks across Mouvement making the whole thing feel like, well, like a singular movement in a greater work. “Surrounded and Amazed by These Unplumbed Abysses of the Inverted Sea” flies by driven almost primarily by rhythms at once both completely tribal and akin to a marching band. Acting as an movement in its own right, the track flows seamlessly into “ Through Kaleidoscopic Haze of Unexpected Extents as the syncopated rhythms continue. The guitars begin to distort heavily as they spiral downwards, drilling into the floor of the composition and burrowing somewhere between the bass guitar and the floor. And then: a break.
“Shine On, Obsidian! Ego! Ego! Echo Back to the Yearning of the Self!” hits hard with exquisitely planned drums supporting the constant upswing of guitar lines. It’s a singularly intense moment on the record caused not by slow, plodding tension but rather by crashing indulgence in an almost straight forward rhythmic phrase. Even the split-second pause is enough to load up that neck for full bang position as the track rumbles into action.
I should mention, breaking the fourth-wall, that I listened to this album a lot. So much so that I thought I had gone insane. Have I? I probably did. Or maybe I was before. Regardless, there were times that Mouvement flew by in a brisk breeze, leaving me refreshed as if I had meditated or power-napped through thirty-three minute runtime. At other times, the album dragged, keeping me in a suspended state of animation, head-rolling, tongue hanging out of my mouth and my jaw agape as my eyes slowly rolled into the back of my head. We’re talking about altered states of consciousness here.
Coming from a band that was often led to open drawn out, open passages and fuzz, Mouvement is shocking in its in-your-face briskness. There is, on the negative side of the coin, a surprising lack of vocals on this album. While that leads to the free-jazz feel, it takes away some of the haunting aura of previous work. There is also no keyboard as used on Transient to provide a horror-movie background (as in “Advent of my Genesis”).
All that aside, Mouvement fucking rips. In what has been a glacially slow moving year in metal, Chaos Echoes has been in heavy, positive and intoxicating rotation for weeks. Fans of all that psychotic death metal (Teitanblood, Portal, Mitochondrion, etc.) will be super psyched to fry the remaining connections of their Frontal Lobe to their Broca Area. Perhaps they will lose their ability to use words for expression (which may explain the lack of vocals on Mouvement) and spend their days drooling into pudding as death metal flows across their skin rising goosebumps and transparent hairs. However you choose to go out of this life, always remember death by psychotic introversion caused by Chaos Echoes a fucking solid choice.