Friday, May 18, 2012

Ithi - Within [Land of Decay]

I literally knew nothing about this band or what the tape would sound like before I put it in. And the antelopes or whatever they are weren't giving me any clear intimations either. I generally try not to read reviews or label blurbs of something if I think I'll be reviewing it; still though, it's not often that I walk in with no expectations and the feeling is oh so sweet when the sounds I'm met with are really, really good. That's the case here with this Ithi cassette.
Ithi is a duo of Joshua Convey and Luke Kranker (Servile Sect) and their intoxicating concoction is hard to adequately explain. Their attack is mechanized but not industrial, it feels heavy but I wouldn't describe it as anything close to metal, it's absolutely smothered in thick blankets of feedback, and mesmerizing ones at that, yet I would not bring shoegaze into this conversation. Also, this is, if I may say so, even kind of catchy. And, oh yeah, this tape has a Nico cover.
The opener "Go Forth and Die" is awesome! It's a little eerie and fully hypnotic. With a 4-note organ melody grinding away, programmed bass and drum tracks providing all the necessary thumps and a hearty groove, add buried vocals and Ithi has established a potent nucleus right off the bat. They haven't even introduced my favorite parts, the counter melodies (via guitar and keyboard I think) that crop up in the second half of the track. Neither of these new melodies do anything to ease the unsettling vibes yet are strangely hum-able. Who'd of thought discomfort could be this inviting?
"Go Forth" segues seamlessly into "Roses in the Snow" which some of you may have heard on Nico's The Marble Index. Ithi attacks the song from the opposite direction Nico did. Calling it a cover, as I did above, is a little inaccurate as this is more of a re-imagining of the entire track. While the original version is unnervingly sparse, Kranker and Convey slowly build an enormously dense forest of sounds here, and this is way before they even introduce the signature organ line and vocals. This thing is so gloriously massive and looming, it broods in a way that probably would have blown poor Nico's mind. As the melodic elements take a firmer foothold, the track simultaneously grows louder, noisier, thicker. The depth of sound the duo create here is pretty staggering. Can't get enough.
The flipside is a single track "SomeWHere." With a heartbeat of a deep bass throb outlining the frame, Kranker and Convey coat the jam in snowy feedback, making for a smoggy and positively suffocating environment. When the track reaches it's pinnacle of volume (both in terms of loudness and density) I expect the tape to simply snap under the weight. There's somewhat of a respite near the end where a strummed bass is heard relatively clearly before another feedback avalanche is hailed. It's a nice piece, perfectly fine on its own terms, but I find Ithi's application of immense textures to melodically-impelled compositions present on the first side to be the most interesting.
I think this tape may already be sold out at Land of Decay--that didn't take long!--so let the great google search begin. Good luck!

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