Vlucht of the Behemoth

Autaar & 404
In De Kiem Gesmoord
NO LABEL CD (2002)

Good record of dismal and dark drone by these two Dutch (I think) performers, sent to us from Berlin, and stamped with a red certification that validates its “drone” credentials…this might be the first time these two have collaborated, and they tell us it more or less came about by accident thanks to a stray email. I have to assume they met up at some stage as there is some photographic evidence of them standing in the same garden surrounded by a bunch of commonplace objects, and yet still managing to foster an aura of menace and strangeness, born 20 years too late to audition for a part in The Midwich Cuckoos.

Autaar is Mark Lindhout, 404 is the alias of Joost van Ophem, and I can’t find much trace of previous musical outings of either, although Lindhout may have done the graphic design for a Dutch heavy metal band called Judgement Day. As it happens, heavy metal is their common ground – the duo aren’t averse to a bit of amped-up heavy metal riffage, as can be heard on the short blast of monstrous churnage ‘Living Together, Apart’, where evil twisted guitars slug it out with horrifying choruses of doomed souls. It would be too convenient to think they’re aiming for their own take on Sunn O))) or other forms of art-drone-metal, since almost every track is different on this album, whose title translates from Dutch into “Nipped In The Bud”. After kicking off with two instances of thickened, clotted over-rich swamp-filth, we eventually reach the centrepiece of bleak horror that is ‘Finely Tuned Abandonment’, where the duo reveal a talent for nuance and detail compared to the bludgeoning terror-mode wodges that preceded it. Guitar lines and odd synth passages aren’t so much woven together on a loom as grown together like tendrils or twisting ivy vines, vines several miles long and gradually taking over the planet. It’s a grim realisation of inner desolation, and the sense of alienation is quite palpable…with these taut, restrained performances the pair manage to sustain a good mood of tension, one that is never quite resolved.

There’s also ‘Van Henk moest ik crypto kopen’, a track referring to the contemporary problem of crypto-currency in some way, but is itself another instance of nauseating, unsettling music performed with a dreadful calm; each element (bass guitar, electronics, guitars) clearly presented within the frame of a dreadfully convincing argument about the futility of everything. You’re probably cottoning onto the “theme” of In De Kiem Gesmoord by now, and yes – it turns out to be another pandemic album, as the artistes claim to offer “a reflection of working as an artist during [the pandemic’s] accompanying limitations”, which I take to mean a lament of frustration about becoming a virtual shut-in, which may account for the intense sense of claustrophobia evoked by these airless tracks, drones, non-tunes, and guitar blasts. The duo have their own ideas though, and compiled a webpage where they muse about their work using free-form prose outbursts wrenched from the inner corners of their fervid lobes.

In all, maybe a tad hit-or-miss in places, but I like the have-a-go spirit of these two semi-avant metalsters, and there’s something heartfelt and personal about this record that is endearing. From 24 June 2022.