Slip Records (Mica Levi & Oliver Coates, Otto Willberg) with another release of contemporary classical music that manages to be both challenging and good. Chaines has proven a highly unique singer and sound artist over previous drops for Slip, and The King is another feather in the cap of an artist who has performed alongside the London Contemporary Orchestra. The eight parts of The King cover much ground, from the sky-scraping abstraction of ‘Airship’ to the tape-loop Scott Walker closer ‘Eraserhead’.
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- The King by Chaines
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I’ll just start with “For Your Own Good”, because describing this record in one breath is a nightmare task. That opener, though, should just about take your breath away. In the foreground, it whispers at you, an incomprehensible discussion that plays out like ASMR folklore; behind it, a drone grumbles with the wobbliness of a throaty yawn, like an unholy beast awakening somewhere close but remote I don’t care to visit. It’s majestic and cavernous and don’t you must never go near it.
Chaines have created an absolute rabbit hole of new classical music: it is sparkling organs and distant woodwinds. It is throbbing hardcore beatwork and languishing drone. It is also people: frightened people, running for their lives, and frightening people, cackling their way after them. Their endless use of disparate textures and characters creates a record that feels lived in the way a good silent movie does; you can hear these people reacting to their hellscaped environment speechlessly, devastated by what seems both familiar and illusionary. The woodwind discordance meets dub techno meets awkwardly chimining tower clock of “DOWN”? Nah, I’m good. I’ll watch this one from home.
Absolutely the most terrifying, twisting and turning, purgatory-plunging record I’ve heard this year, I implore you all to sink into this world and hand over none of your trust: there are moments that have suggestions of serenity, such as the brief arpeggiating guitar that ends “Airship” -- they are mirages sent from murderers. Amazing record. Hide it somewhere where I can't see it.
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