CONTAGIOUS ORGASM | INSTINCT PRIMAL: GIANT FISH (2014)
Reviewed format: CD Album on sssm
Catalogue number: sssm-113
Welcome to my new review series Unstable Matter. This series will focus on releases I ordered through online mail-order, chance discovery (by random choice) as well as music I bought at concerts. The focus is on discovering, reviewing and sharing underground music in particular the Noise, Industrial and more extreme forms of experimental music as well as related Sound Collage and Field Recordings embedded works through the old-school way of finding it “in the wild” on CD, tape or special format and I’ll also obviously talk a bit about the artwork and presentation of every release in these reviews. This can also be a nice way to discover gems that might not be on Bandcamp or the major indie shops so let’s now dig into the first release in this new series. I found this album through the NORTHERN HERITAGE FREAK ANIMAL RECORDS WEBSTORE on which I’ve previously found an excellent archival Industrial compilation, in this case the CD was only labeled with the artists who recorded the album, CONTAGIOUS ORGASM and INSTINCT PRIMAL. No other info other than that this is a collaboration album was given so it was definitely an interesting “mystery release” I found. When I received the CD in the mail after ordering I was surprised in a very positive way. First of all, I already knew a bit about Japanese artist / group CONTAGIOUS ORGASM though I haven’t listened to his music before, but INSTINCT PRIMAL was still an unknown artist to me. Second of all, the artwork and packaging of this album on CD is very nice and gives off a more organic, nature themed atmosphere than the Industrial rawness I was expecting but this definitely increased my feelings of being intrigued as to what the music would be like. Now, before the review of this music, I’ll talk a bit about the artwork. The pictures of this will be up on Instagram (@polarvisions). As you can see, the album cover depicts the GIANT FISH from the title as hovering through a very dry red mountain landscape. It’s a monochrome image blended in with the nature which hints a bit at a connection between the landscape and the animals. Underneath the fish the artist names are added in quite rounded uppercase type in yellow, giving a nice balance in colours in the image. The fish definitely adds a calm feeling to the image and suggestion of ambience of the music but the red / orange colour of the image also gives it an intense kind of urgency as it hints to not expect calming Ambient really. This cover artwork is by Sasha Sakir and Prokop Vocadlo. I couldn’t find a lot of information on the artists but it’s a great image definitely. On the spine of this cardboard gatefold sleeve the CD is housed in you can find the artist names and album title, again in uppercase yellow type to the left and label catalogue number to the far right. The cover artwork extends to the spine and also forms a background for it. On the back, on a brownish colour matching the front cover we can find the tracklist in normal writing style, again in yellow type, the album credits underneath and the label catalogue number, label name and Facebook link and the sssm label logo to the right. On the inside of the gatefold you can find another great artwork picture which continues with the theme from the cover, featuring a different photo of the dry mountain landscape as the background of a collage of blue fish all following each other in a gorgeous cloud like shape that leads to them swimming into what looks like abstracted white shapes of doors, great artwork again which is spread over the two inside panels of the gatefold. The CD is housed in a die-cut on the right panel and as the cardboard is quite thick, it’s also not too tight fitting, so there’s less risk that you’ll scratch the CD when you take it out. The face of the CD itself features more minimal artwork than the sleeve with the artist names and title of the album in a different serif uppercase typeface at the top. The artist names in black and album title in which on black bar. Several of the fish on the inside gatefold are seen swimming on the CD and on the bottom right you’ll find the label logo, catalogue number and CD logo. All these elements are separate on the face and there’s no additional background colour or image.
Now, let’s move to the music on GIANT FISH. As I mentioned, before I knew which album I was about to receive by mail and what kind of music is on this CD I did already have some kind of idea about the style of at least one of the artists on this album, CONTAGIOUS ORGASM, with him being quite a well known and prolific figure in Industrial and related harsher experimental music styles, but what struck me as a pleasant surprise on this album was that the music on GIANT FISH, while not being purely Industrial is in fact so varied in style and atmosphere. First track Machines Of War starts of the album as a quite energetic piece of music which blends various field recordings of vocals with clattering Industrial Noise, strong low bass pulsations and some great mechanical rhythms. These low bass pulsations, or rather, thump bass in general is a recurring element on this album, with even the more atmospheric pieces often still featuring some quite thick bass frequencies but these are fortunately pretty well balanced with the other elements of the music. Machines Of War forms a great progressive introduction to the sound of this album which blends elements of Industrial and Noise with field recordings and sound collages as well as Dark Ambient atmospheres. Machines Of War with its build up of intensifying bass pulsations mixed with detailed clattering, noise, feedback and eerie resonances is also the noisiest piece on the album but the following pieces do still often carry quite a dark energy within them. This first track does definitely showcase the great interplay between CONTAGIOUS ORGASM and INSTINCT PRIMAL, both artists are active in Industrial, Noise and (Dark) Ambient music, blending various textures and sound sources together and there is a seamless blends of elements in the album which makes the music feel truly coherent as one experience. The next track Dismal State Of Mind is a short piece that blends an excellent choppy rhythmic sound collage of crowd noises, shocked gasps from a girl and bell sounds with dark mysterious highly resonant shifting metallic drones and a mixture of interference sounds, stutters and synth noises. A truly otherworldly ambience of sonic textures is created in this piece which feels both disturbing and intriguing as the eerie evolution of the sounds and sonic elements floating only raises questions in your imagination about what’s happening and you’re also starting to connect the eerie metallic sounds to the mental state of the girl. A great piece again and I love how the duo of artists can create such immersive, heavily abstract but also very captivating soundscapes that vary from track to track but still retain a coherent sense of mystery and at times dark clouds of uncertainty as the music sometimes suggest a hidden threat we don’t yet know about. Then in Solitude we are brought into a spooky ambience consisting of a dark repeating hollow filtered melodic pattern accompanied by muffled Industrial clangs mixed with clouds of circling feedback loops. Field recordings of walking in snow also feature that add another creepy element to this piece which emits a very nice horror film soundtrack like ambience of walking outside at night in the snow during the winter season, not knowing what danger might be lurking outside. But you keep on walking and walking, still with scared feelings about what might happen. The music has a lovely classic Industrial sound to it with its layering of concrete sounds, feedback and in the first half also what sounds like a string drone. Very nice music and a lovely evolution throughout the piece. In next track Back World an awesomely “moving” metallic filtered drone ambience forms the background of a string of various metallic sonic events many of the sounds being quite percussive and moving from texture to texture. Ranging from short choppy rhythmic noise bits to full on filtered metallic synth effects to clanging mechanical processes the piece combines a continuous hissy drone with a lot of exciting sound manipulation which triggers your imagination to draw pictures of all these exciting new sonics but the background drone still suggests a bleak kind of Industrial ambience even with the at times quirky nature of the metallic sounds. The piece is playful but there’s still a mysterious darkness underneath the fun. Time Axis Distorted is a shorter piece with more of a Techno feel to it. The piece features a mysterious but also quite playful hissy noise synth melody over low slightly bell like bass synth tones that are backed by a slow rhythm of punchy Industrial Techno kicks and hollow Industrial pulsations, water like resonances and some quirky glitchy synth effects. It’s a more light hearted piece after the darkness in some of the previous tracks and showcases the at times more Techno like direction the music on GIANT FISH moves in. Time Axis Distorted feels like the soundtrack to a satirical science fiction film with its mixture of eerie alien textures with some more positive spirited elements in the form of the synth melodies and drum rhythm. Very nice again. Cleft then blends various intensely rhythmic and quite metallic sound elements together into a piece that finds a very curious balance between many field recordings from sounds varying from people outside, glass, drilling and much more with a pretty funky breakbeat groove and quite uplifting PWM synth drones. It’s a quite hearted piece again that blends richly texture concrete sounds with an Industrial edge and Triphop like atmospheric groove. A very good piece again and the minimalist background melody adds a quirky sense of “comfort” to the piece, like the music even with its sometimes harsh Industrial edges asks us to calm down and relax, very fun piece, great performances by the artists again. Practice And Enjoy brings us back into the darkness again and this time we arrive in a thunderstorm, rain is pouring down on our heads as we head, towards our doom? Indeed the music is quite mysterious in this piece, being more minimal in its composition and based around continuous drones, shifting resonances and the aforementioned thunderstorm sounds the feature in most of the track. Bass pulsations feature quite heavily especially in this track and the eerie melodic patterns combined with ghostly metallic sounds make you feel cold even if the actual temperature is not like that. I love the depth of the layers and very urgent feeling this music radiates, the all encapsulating hazy clouds of sound really feel genuinely dangerous and as the piece progresses it feels like a document of a particularly tense event you experience in a thunderstorm, very thrilling and captivating. On the next piece No One Is Safe II we have an equally tense kind of ambience, though without the rain featuring even more field recordings and classic style delayed clangs forming sweet Industrial rhythms. This piece feels particularly cinematic with the many door creaking and speaking sounds giving of a strong feeling of unease like exploring an abandoned building that’s partially collapsed and discovering dark secrets about it still being in used, with its residents hiding in corners but coming to you soon for sure. The richly texture two note melodic drone pattern also adds a very nice doom filled touch to the piece, excellent interplay between CONTAGIOUS ORGAM and INSTINCT PRIMAL, I can’t praise their music enough on this album, it’s excellent. Final track, Giant Fish, the title track of this album begins with an eerie mass of highly resonant metallic filtered textured and rhythmic phone dial tone patterns but in the second half a 4/4 Industrial Techno beat kicks in. Indeed, quite unexpected even for this album, but it really works and the strangely upbeat combination of eerie ambience with jumpy almost rave like Industrial Techno beat ends the album with a very nice blast. While it’s not as layered as the other pieces the evolution in textures and exciting Techno rhythms make this an excellent closer of an equally awesome album.
GIANT FISH by CONTAGIOUS ORGASM | INSTINCT PRIMAL is an awesome album of heavily immersive experimental music which seamlessly blends soundscape elements with Industrial music and the collaboration between both artists created a very good collection of music on the album. This is an amazing discovery of an album which variety, captivating performances and awesome sonic crafting make this a highly recommended listen, an album to relisten many times as well. If you like Industrial, Noise, soundscapes or Industrial Techno or all combined you’ll definitely love this album but also if you don’t know these styles yet, this album is a great introduction to the field as well as a highly immersive journey of quality underground music. Highly recommended, go check this out.
I ordered this CD Album from the NORTHERN HERITAGE FREAK ANIMAL RECORDS WEBSTORE, unfortunately at time of writing it is down for maintenance. You can however pick up the CD Album from sssm too, through their Bandcamp page here: