Yurei – Night Vision; Alfa Obscura – Plutonian Shores

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Review by Jason Guest

Adversum Records

Music means something very different to Norwegian composer and multi-instrumentalist Bjeima. His ability to turn his hand to numerous musical styles and techniques is matched only by his ability to create music that is as distinct and intriguing as the concepts behind them. As the sole creator and performer for these two projects, both Yurei and Alfa Obscura couldn’t be further apart in terms of style and aesthetic. In possession of a fully (dis)functioning mind walled within an asymmetrical brain, Bjeima’s kaleidoscopic and chaotic landscapes are peppered with the luminously surreal and the insurmountably intense. Give this guy over to Freud, Jung, Lacan, or any other psychoanalyst and watch them crumble as he delightedly ingests their observations and playfully crafts them into enigmatic sculptures for Yurei or hymns to the abolition of existence for Alfa Obscura.

Yurei – Night Vision

A wave of incessant and hypnotic rhythms, dissonant chords, chromatics that climb and collapse, and huge intervallic leaps across malformed scales, Night Vision is weird. Wonderfully so. Night Vision is that sort of controlled avant-garde type of music that’s aware of all of the boundaries that it gleefully steps through. Across the simple and repetitive structures, mischievous melodies climb and fall, jazz fusion riffs and syncopated rhythms clash, and walking bass lines, dissonant riffs and discordant chords underpin the confessional, crooning vocals. Dark, sinister atmospheres and eccentric and dramatic performances are urged onward into the uncharted avenues of the psyche. All the while, the madcap laughs as he hops, skips and jumps along an array of diminished scales. Romantic noir jazz is juxtaposed with a strange reverie of up-beat jazz fusion improv and ever-spiralling motifs. More than a little askew, Night Vision is an oddity, a bizarre peculiarity, eerie, creepy, unconventional, eccentric, and quirky, and a place worth paying a visit to.

7.5 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Insomniac Bug Hunt
  2. Reborn In Reveries
  3. 3.00 a.m. Revolt
  4. The Cognitive Crack
  5. Diminished Disciple
  6. Sleepwalkers In Love
  7. Dali By Night
  8. Ditt Monument
  9. Machinery
  10. Cranial Echoes

 

Alfa Obscura – Plutonian Shores

Alfa Obscura couldn’t be more different from Yurei. With distorted guitars abandoned completely for Yurei, it’s that disfigured plank in all its grim glory that dominates Plutonian Shores. The cold waters and chilling sounds that open the album are those of a nightmarish horror, their frosted resonance intimating the black metal assault that is soon to follow. The ferocious barrage of grand and jarring chords, fiery, minimalist chromatic riffs, and galloping rhythms of traditional 90s black metal underpin the album. Where Bjeima stands out from the black mass is in his elaborate textures and sickeningly irregular structures. Melodic bass-lines and contorted arpeggios evoke the mysteries and dark seduction of the underworld in the extended passages while Bjeima’s dynamic control comes to the fore in the slower tempos where his proficiency for subtlety against the backdrop of fire are more pronounced. Where the bass and guitar work forge with the drums in the second half of ‘Hell Rethroned’ is particularly astounding. In this and the other tracks, disparate musical passages are drawn together that are appear, at first, erratic and impulsive yet reveal themselves to be adroitly crafted in their mesmeric power. And when he opens his throat to let rip, this is a much different maniacal beast to that of Yurei. Across Plutonian Shores, the seething flurry of wrath sinks deeper into despair and devastation and makes for a nightmarish yet curiously liberating experience.

7.5 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Waves From The Plutonian Shores
  2. Intense Departure
  3. Mistress Viper
  4. Hell Rethroned
  5. The Weaver
  6. Benighted Hierophants
  7. Stalkers Of The Black Stars
  8. The Antagonist I
  9. The Demon Is On The Horn
  10. Den Siste Reise