Release date: 5 February 2016
Review by Jason Guest
Aluk Todolo’s most recent album, Occult Rock (reviewed here), has been stuck on my turntable since its release in 2012. Colossal in scope and penetratingly hypnotic in its continually unfurling textures, the vinyl version quickly became a compulsory purchase and the unfathomable depths of that album still resonate every time it gets a spin. And since the album dropped into my inbox, the sustained examination of their back catalogue has been unendingly gratifying and infinitely fascinating.
Looking into the back catalogue of any band brings with it that risk of there being a lot of shit to wade through. Whether badly recorded, badly written, or badly played (how many death and black metal bands fit that description?), there’s usually a bunch of tracks, sometimes even whole albums in there that are difficult if not excruciating to get through. Not even the distance of time or the mirage of nostalgia can make them shine even the slightest. But with Aluk Todolo, I’m yet to find fault.
Their eponymous debut single released in 2006, an experimental blend of kraut- and space-rock, may be derivative but it introduces and points the way for a band with significant potential, that potential very much captured with their first full length, 2007’s Descension. But I’ll refrain from going through every one of their releases with a fine-tooth comb and leave it to the listener/reader unfamiliar with their oeuvre to explore and discover the delights for themselves. Suffice it to say that long ago, Aluk Todolo set the controls for dimensions and domains that only music can render.
2016 and Aluk Todolo return with a new album, Voix (voice[s] in French), one piece divided into six parts totalling 43 minutes, each “track” title being the duration of each part. And yes, like its predecessors, it is extraordinary. Again, in the hands of this trio, the musical instruments have defied and broken their bounds and become conduits for some inner, outer and otherworldly force. As this seemingly unending stream of cacophony pours from the speakers, the drums bleed, bawl and bay, the bass intones mantra after penetrating mantra, and the guitar fills the air with ravaged chords, supernatural screams and maniacal bursts of feedback and flurry.
Together, the mystical and the magical are brought into being and the voices carry us over into that fervent and exuberant space beyond the self, beyond the tangible and far beyond the existential. At every instant, Voix is mind-blowing. Not even the most exquisite poetry could communicate what this album does. To experience Voix is to surrender oneself to the sublime.
10 out of 10