Mohammad make chamber drone, taking cellos and other traditional acoustic instruments and sustaining them, as if they're being sharpened like a knife. The result is a sound that's both unsettling and unprecedented. They've already released one record this year, 'Zo Rél Do', which they claim is part of a trilogy that "explores the sounds of the geographical area between 34°N - 42°N &  19° E - 29° E". Of course. The next record in the project is 'Lamnè Gastama', and it promises the same dark, unwavering sound. 

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Lamnè Gastama by Mohammad
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9/10 Jim 19 October 2014

Everyone’s favourite chamber doom band (are there any other chamber doom bands?) are back with the second instalment in their “trilogy that explores the sounds of the geographical area between 34°Ν - 42°Ν & 19°Ε - 29°Ε”. If you find all those coordinates confusing, googling them will only add to that confusion. But more importantly, the first record of the trilogy ‘'Zo Rél Do' was a corker and this one is easily as good if not better. For the uninitiated, what Mohammad do is take contrabass, cello and oscillators and use these to make deep, resonant and rasping dirges that- while they might owe a nod to avant doomsters like Sunn O))), Corrupted or even minimalist bass-heads like Eleh- don’t really sound like anything else I can think of.

The opener here ‘Pichak’ shows them to be in particularly fierce form, jumping straight in with a profoundly terse, seesawing groove atop a migraine-inducing bass throb. As they build up momentum, the level of buzz and growl seems to get more intense, to the point where they seem to be playing so hard that the strings are lierally screaming for mercy. And then everything suddenly halts, leaving a faint tinnitus-like ringing before the strings receive another round of punishment.

The second track ‘Hapsía’ features vocals from Sakis Tolis of Greek Black Metal legends Rotting Christ. For my money, his guttural death-rattle whispers don’t add much and might even detract from the majestic starkness of Mohammad’s basic sound. Nevertheless, the track is far from being a failure as it features some of the group’s most fearsome string scraping yet, with passages of toothsome dissonance counterbalancing a folkish melody.

In fact, one of Mohammad’s great strengths is the fact that they actually play songs; beneath all the reverberating bass and bow rattling there is often an evocative melody or chord progression that adds to the solid air and integrity of the tracks. ‘Adar Toli’ is the most melodic song here whilst the closer, the 17 minute long ‘Tik Tromaktón’, shows the band at their most otherworldy; with the cello playing against the grain of the snarling bass groove to generate weird harmonics. Yet another triumphant record then by a truly fascinating group.


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