Aethenor - Faking Gold And Murder
VHF Records
Ambient Drone, Avant-Garde
4 songs (35:46)
Release year: 2009
Aethenor, VHF Records
Reviewed by Goat

Starting with clattering chaos and proceeding to go through some very strange soundscapes indeed, experimental supergroup Aethenor have been slaving away in the underground since 2003, Faking Gold And Murder their third full-length. It’s quite a line-up: Stephen O’Malley (Sunn O))), Khanate, Burning Witch, and so on) provides the Droning guitar hums that form the ambient backdrop of the band’s sound, keyboards are performed by Guapo’s Daniel O’Sullivan and Shora’s Vincent De Roguin, and guest musicians like Nicolas Field and Alex Babel provide percussion, Alex Tucker guitar, and Current 93’s mastermind David Tibet on vocals. It’s a very experimental listen, far from the usual glacial riffs, much of the time focusing on keyboards and vocals – fans of Current 93 will probably enjoy this much more than fans of, say, Boris. There’s influence from Krautrock in the dark, mystical atmosphere, and from Jazz in the crazed percussion.

Although this is best tagged as Drone and Avant-Garde, it’s more like a recording made at some freakish ritual. The album is divided into four tracks, ranging from five to ten minutes in length, and numbered I to IV, making this one of those albums that you have to experience rather than listen to. And it truly is quite an experience if you’re willing to engage with it, the full creepy impact coming with Tibet’s seemingly random contributions, which are actually rather disturbing when they arise from the surrounding gloom. His vocal style, for those unfamiliar with Current 93, is a subtly deranged singing-chant, noticeably English-accented and high-pitched, and whilst it sounds rather laughable on paper, you won’t be laughing when the full impact hits. On III especially his voice interweaves with the percussion and the shimmering keyboards to stunning effect, fading and growing louder but somehow quite horrific.

It’s all rather like some horror soundtrack from the 70s, in a way, but where that would obviously give you visuals to focus on, here you have to face the insanity. Fortunately for first-timers with this sort of thing, final track IV grants you a reprieve as things turn towards the Post-Rock region, but it’s still very atmospheric and undeniably strange. To be honest, I’m rather at a loss when it comes to summing this up. Not everyone may get the trawl through long-forgotten temples and arcane rituals that I do, but even if Faking Gold And Murder seems like a group of strange sounds, chances are that you’ll still be uneasily looking over your shoulder after it’s over, so it’ll still be worth the time spent on it.

Killing Songs :
Album as a whole, with III and IV especially gripping
Goat quoted 78 / 100
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