The Metallic Year

Rating: 3.5/5.0

Label: Thrill Jockey Records

With each passing minute into The Metallic Year, it becomes increasingly inevitable to admit that Imbogodom is not a normal project. During his time as a radio engineer with BBC’s Bush House, New Zealand native Daniel Beban began creating sonic explorations with U.K. musician Alexander Tucker. The duo’s method of choice for reviving the waning art of tape editing lies within in the forgotten potential of Bush House’s old tape reel desks. It is in this unlikely environment that Imbogodom was conceived, but more remarkable is the cohesion between Beban and Tucker; the duo spliced their musical personalities together as seamlessly as their intricate sonic collages.

After the texturally gritty preamble, “The Metallic Year Pt. 1,” the music catapults into full freak-force. “Unseen Ticket” is the perfect track to allow listeners to adjust to the sonic mayhem within, a full-fledged composition with instrumentation spanning the spectrum of stringed instruments. Pianos, banjos, guitars and beyond play a measurable, majestic melody under a smoggy layer of noise not meant for the faint of heart. The track is deceitful, the only of its kind on The Metallic Year, though a considerate gesture on the duo’s part. It gives us something somewhat accessible to latch onto before throwing us into the deep end.

As is evident with the following collage, “Of the Cloth,” Beban and Tucker didn’t create The Metallic Year to wow audiences with melodies. The various layers of noise screech, buzz and warble as tangibly as they haunt, alienate and hallucinate. It’s this hodgepodge of everything and seemingly nothing that best defines what Imbogodom is as a conceptualization. “Indosoap” presents another quintessential mood. Minimalist bells and vibes plunk and tinker over thin, howling tape loops, and culminate into an anxious, otherworldly soundscape over its gradual transformation. A sprawling, six-minute ode to Imbogodom’s birthplace, “Bvsh Hovse Ghost” is even more distancing with its morphed, Buddhist-like humming and chanting, courtesy of a dictophone. Meanwhile, “Report From Iron Mountain” is as nearly music-less as it is intelligible, a bizarre radio transmission gone awry. With each given collage, the duo’s seasoned classical and experimental leanings are clearly evident without overpowering each other.

Beban and Tucker split the duties between performing/improving live instruments and fiddling with the tape desk, perhaps the reason The Metallic Year sounds like it could’ve been produced by a single left-brained mind. Like solo texturalists Fennesz and Alva Noto, there’s a certain auteurship to Imbogodom’s work that rarely spawns from two brains. The Metallic Year barely stretches past 30 minutes (just the right dosage of noise), but it’s a profound 30 minutes that’s every bit as mind-bending as it is titillating. A landmark avant-garde work it is not and it doesn’t have to be. With moods and auras this rich and developed, you’d hardly think this was a debut album.

by Jory Spadea

Key Track: Unseen Ticket

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