I have a recurring trope in my dreams: walking through a deserted, derelict stately villa in the middle of nowhere, with gentle flickers of music from bygone eras emanating from a non-localized source. An anticipation of imminent (and a memory of) past tragedies coupled with a sense of urgency and fear pervade the air. As an avid music listener, I have been longing for an apt soundtrack to fill in these chimerical scenarios, and Vindicatrix‘s beautifully harrowing Mengamuk might just be it.
An amalgam of quixotic pasts, presents and futures, Mengamuk floats in the fissures and seams of the real and imaginable, retaining a macabre touch without adhering to the cliches of darkness, all while oozing an utterly romantic flair (at least in my world). David Aird’s debut album on the UK’s prime proselytizer of aural psychotropia, Mordant Music, follows in the wake of his idiosyncratic release Die Alten Bösen Lieder and the much-acclaimed cover of Michael Jackson’s track Human Nature. His affinity for recontextualizing existing or imagined realities, filtered through modern electronics, fits perfectly into MM’s portfolio of purveyors of uncompromising, adventurous music, comfortably nestling alongside Ekoplekz’ brain-twisting analogue meddley, Shackleton‘s sonic accompaniments to contemporary urban paranoia or Baron Mordant‘s deliveries.
Aird’s beguiling baritone, often compared to the likes of David Sylvian or Scott Walker, is a haunted harbinger of humanity swirling around machinelike, vertigo-inducing sonics. “Remote Viewers” is a surprisingly jubilant cacophony of voices, lead by Aird’s theatrical crooning, while “Makan” could be a hymn of the deceased, calling upon their undead lovers and luring them into the kingdom of Hades. The gentle slabs of piano rising from a backdrop of bass and voice on “Utopium-Eater” offer vague hope for salvation, like a pleasant memory of a seductive dream one wishes to return to periodically. “Mengamuk” apparently means something along the lines of “making a furious and desperate charge” in Malay, a charge that’s hard to deny in this case.
Published November 14, 2012.