Stagnant Waters – Stagnant Waters


Review by Jason Guest


This, the début from French-Norwegian band Stagnant Waters, is clearly the mutant bastard offspring of three minds long escaped form the confines of convention and orthodoxy. Impulsive, irregular, and irrational, this unstable edifice always feels as if it’s about to crumble around us, condemning us to the cold indifference of existence, unsure as to whether we should be grateful or terrified by this emancipation. Across the album, extremes have been not just transgressed but left far behind, and deep in the crumbling horizon that lies before us, there remains little that is recognisable.

A mass of digitally stained discord, the crumbling industrial emptiness is sporadically populated by chaotic noise clashing with drubbing rhythms in unpredictable and turbulent structures. The hard-hitting distorted magnificence is underpinned by surging and persistent electronic pulses and filtered pandemonium. Juxtaposing fragile guitar chords with a multi-layered miasma of vocals and cacophonous clatter, the disproportionate disarray of ‘Of Salt And Water’s is bitter and all-enveloping, its numbing effect assuaged by the soft light opening of the warm ‘Castles’, the first track that appears to be anywhere close to “normal”. Its structure is almost linear and its development is the most easily charted of all of the tracks here yet its disfigured aesthetic remains as repellent as it is palatable. The off-key jazz sax of ‘Concrete’ delivers another dimension with its bleached beats that writhe in an ecstatic agony that cascades into ‘Bandaged In Suicide Notes’ and through the jazz of the ten-minute ‘Axolotl’, easily the most enthralling and absorbing piece on the album. And so, the malfunctioning electronics, nocuous guitars, and carnival-esque samples, the angular and dense improvisation of ‘From The Breaking Neck To Infinity’ sees the good ship Bat-Shit Insane seizing whatever’s left of your mind for its cargo and sailing off across the motionless seas toward La-La Land. Cuckoo…

To some – well, more than likely most – this perverse rendition of irreconcilable truths will be utterly impenetrable. But to those that dare step beyond its ugly façade to delve and explore the dense complexities contained within, this has much to offer. While on the surface it may appear to be no more than a bricolage of unsystematic sounds, accidental noises, and slivers from countless genres thrown together and peppered with distorted vocal ejaculations and mangled and emaciated hums, resonances, and thuds, there’s more fathoming than fortune in its construction. Like the murk and the darkness of stagnant waters, what gestates beneath its repellent veneer is mystifying, bewitching, and irresistibly seductive…

Stagnant Waters - Album8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Algae
  3. Of Salt And Water
  4. Castles
  5. Concrete
  6. Bandaged In Suicide Notes
  7. Axolotl
  8. From The Breaking Neck To Infinity