Imbogodom And They Turned Not When They Left(Thrill Jockey) Buy it from Insound
A latent aim exists within all recorded music to transport the listener. Because of its synthetic nature, the commitment of sound to vinyl, tape, or disk creates unrealities of varying artifice and scope. Since the mainstream adoption of the gramophone in the early part of the 20th century, composers have been writing specifically with the record, rather than the music hall, in mind, resulting in a foregrounding of production as a craft in and of itself. This has led to the evolution of producers from mere facilitators of mass audio consumption to auteurs of unique worlds which exist solely on their terms and which are never quite true.
Emerging in the 1940s, musique concrète was the natural upshot of technological leaps in the studio space and a thirst for sounds which went beyond the faithful documentation of live music performance. Heavily influenced by the audio tracks of the film industry, it grew out of the ability to sequence, layer and manipulate sounds, many of which hadn’t traditionally been associated with musical composition. The idea was to provide a cinematic experience through sonic means alone, transporting the listener to a world light years away from anything that had been previously possible.
Imbogodom’s second full-length, And They Turned Not When They Went, contains only four tracks which could be said to fall under the umbrella of conventional song. The rest see the duo fashion their own brand of musique concrète by pulling together warped synthesizers and backward vocals and letting them loose on a twisted toy box of found objects, discarded piano keys and detuned drum skins. This creates an ethereal night-time landscape of austere and uncomfortably open spaces. Thematically there is an anxiousness at time's unrelenting march; the first sounds we hear are the chimes of Big Ben, while track titles include The Passing Presence and I am Here, I am Gone.
It should be pointed out, therefore, that Imbogodom are adept in constructing a consistently immersive atmosphere. Eerily tense, the record would provide an effective soundtrack to a dystopic horror film. The problem, however, is that the accompanying images do not exist and the record feels one-dimensional and aimless as a standalone; a fragment of a potentially holistic sensory experience. Welcome Away, for example, kicks off with a phone call from some voiceless and seemingly malevolent force, before descending into a deluge of dial tones which gradually attack and decay over the course of four minutes. Though initially unnerving, it becomes more tacky than sinister with repeated listens and it is hard to imagine returning to a track like this - or indeed the bulk of the album – in order to simply revel in nuances of mood and texture.When songs do come they aren’t particularly interesting either. Heir Looms is a reverb-heavy re-hash of Dear Prudence which gives voice to the album’s loose narrative on the passing of time: “Smudging pencil lines in familiar shapes, never really knew the face you drew was rubbed away”. A jarring swirl of acoustic discord and convulsive tom toms in the vein of Jandek, Window Faces fails to build and struggles to sustain attention.
Far beyond simply avant garde, this is one for the abstract devotee. The average listener will be put off by the album’s lack of variation and its preference for atmospherics at the expense of melody and structure. So while Imbogodom are successful in building a unique, desolate panorama, it’s hard to see this sustaining attention as an album in its own right.20 January, 2012 - 09:41 — David Zammitt