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CD Feature/ 15 Degrees Below Zero: "Between Checks And Artillery, Between Work And Image"

img  Tobias

It is clear that 15 Degrees Below Zero are not your regular Noise band. Yes, that’s where they came from, how the structures of the band formed to start with and what still defines parts of the aesthetic principles of the project today. But since those virgin days, four years have passed, which have seen their methods being refined, their techniques becoming more closely aligned, their influences broaden and their expressiveness explode. Right in time before their second full-lenght arrives, this 10 inch Vinyl goodie is a two-track reminder of how far these musicians have come.

While improvisation is still on the bill, it is now more to be seen as a compositional tool, to open up fixed structures and maintain a steady flow of incalculable input. Comparisons to “ad libitum” passages in Classical Music are suddenly not entirely out of place anymore, as the band openly credits the Kronos Quartet’s rendition of John Oswald's "The Spectre" as the muse which brought about the A-side of “Between Checks and Artillery, between Work and Image” (somewhat obviously entitled “Kronos”). It is a perfect demonstration of their demand for music with a goal, a destination vector which it is aspiring to.

In the initial semblances, the piece features loose, openly swinging tones which open up a field of possibilities. By an act of will, these are then bound together in a massive block of a single, unified crescendo. Flipside “The Return” kicks off with washes of demonically deformed vocals howling majestically like a monstrous wind over a vast, looped chord development: “In our fast of spring/I heard the terrible sound of my own self returning.” The pattern frays out and then collapses into a consoling coda of atmospherics and broken guitar chords. Just like the lyrics, the music follows clear rules, yet retains an element of cut-up and self-surprise. “These flooded Decembers/relentless with thread/The arm cuddled child/In the blanket of man”, Mark Wilson screaks as a feedback-version of himself, and the music follows suit, juxtaposing self-sufficient parts into a quilt outside of logical constraints.

You can see “Between Checks and Artillery, between Work and Image” as a logical continuation of the project and as a work representative of the complete pluralism of our world, in which the “popular” borrows from the “serious”, styles converge and holy principles are destroyed to serve as building blocks for new constructs. You can do away with theories alltogether and listen to it as a demanding and yet varied and enjoyable piece of music that brings together elements of drone music, post rock and industrial. Whatever your choice, it is a record proving that 15 Degrees Below Zero remain as impredictable as ever – and anything but a regular noise band.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: 15 Degrees Below Zero
Homepage: Angle Records

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