Ultimo Ancestral Comum: black metal / trance / electronica journey towards ecstasy and enlightenment

Bríi, Último Ancestral Comum, Italy, Flowing Downward, Flow84 limited edition cassette / limited edition vinyl LP (2024)

Originally self-released twelve months ago, this album of heady fusion lo-fi black metal / electronica / trance house has just been picked up by Italian label Flowing Downward for a physical release on cassette tape and vinyl LP. Bríi is one of three BM fusion projects by Brazilian musician Caio Lemos, who I regard right now as one of the most valuable musicians in the world, not just in his chosen genre of black metal, for the uncanny way in which he seamlessly brings together black metal, folk, tropicalia, electronica, trance and whatever other genre of music takes his fancy into beautiful flowing pieces of experimentation that transport listeners into places where they can feel connected to nature, even the universe, and feel peace and joy though their immediate surroundings may be dreary and depressing. Whereas Lemos’s other music projects Kaatayra and Vauravã respectively dive into Brazilian folk and progressive rock, Bríi has always been oriented towards ambient and electronica in its search for humanity’s place in a cold and indifferent universe. On “Último Ancestral Colum”, this orientation takes Bríi into a more trance / house music direction.

From the outset the combination of BM, trance beats and melodious electronica sends you – not necessarily smoothly – into a darkly intimate yet expansive and mind-bending world. Opening track “Viajante Universal” is an explosive piece of harsh lo-fi BM, blast-beat percussion, house music grooves, savage roaring vocals from another dimension and synth-generated space psychedelia: all managing at once to be exhilarating and despairing, gorgeous and uplifting yet informed by the darkness of Bríi’s core music genre. “Alienígena Interior” is a forceful, snarling song that often brims with violence, embodied in its feral vocals, shrill squealing guitar melodies, hyper-fast drumming and swirling keyboard drone clouds. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, often ferocious, this is the most complex song in structure and emotion, and it might have been even more so if the entire recording had a cleaner, more polished production, though at the cost of sacrificing some of its raw and untamed nature.

The second half of the album turns out to be not quite as electrifying as its earlier, more BM-oriented half. “Ecos da Imaginação” (“Echoes of Imagination”) is a slightly introspective, even pensive work combining breakbeats, bubbly synths and occasional outbursts of raw BM anger, lightning guitar melodies and thundering percussion. We reach the depths of despair and even possible death in the wildly desolate lead vocals, accompanied by intense hard-hitting drumming and guitar riffs that light up the night skies with short bursts of electricity. Closing track “”Cada Canto do Universo” (“Every Corner of the Universe”) is something of a disappointment as a continuous techno-tropical house party rave with sampled female vocals and bouncy rhythms: too much of this track sounds like filler techno disco on autopilot and the mind ends up wandering into places it probably shouldn’t go into – such as, pondering whether the pursuit of spiritual ecstasy or enlightenment is a banal activity and if the hypnotic attraction of trance-inducing music might mask a sinister and manipulative agenda that leaves one’s heart and soul exposed to malign forces.

For all its shortcomings, this album still retains that Caio Lemos magic in its flowing organic style and breathtakingly unusual combination of music genres at once fiercely savage and wild, yet smoothly composed and even sophisticated in their sounds and textures. Though the journey through inner space towards ecstasy and enlightenment is straightforward, the changes the music undergoes and the emotions it expresses are immense and confronting. You may find after listening to this music and becoming absorbed in it – it’s impossible to resist being immersed in it – that you’ve changed completely and will never be the same person again.

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