REVIEWS FROM ACROSS THE BOARD
Twisted, dark, and ritualistic excursions into sounds that very narrowly ride the already thin border between music and noise. The backstory behind this album is... odd, much like the back story for most of the Anatomy of the Heads' other works as well as the project as a whole. It's all very slow and grinding, but with a rather chaotic element to all of it, that feels as though we are listening to some very old pagan ritual as it occurs with a definitive overtone of horror.
Much of the time, the album strikes a purely ominous tone with tracks such as "Invoking the Almighty" with far-away sounding chants and dark textures that incorporate distortion and unnatural reverbs. Other times it is much more pointed in its horrific composition with "Towards the Funeral Demon" being a great example of this. This track actually reminds me of the scene in the movie Event Horizon in which the crew fully decodes a transmission only to see and hear the most horrible things. If terror is the point, then they hit it perfectly with this album.
Every once in a while I'm sent an album that I struggle to make sense of. This is by no means a problem. My brain needs the work-out if I'm going to keep my neuroplasticity up while headed into my golden years. Also, as a rule, just because I'm not sure what I've caught, doesn't mean that I'm averse to sharing it with you. I'm generous in that regard- for better or for worse. And this is how I'm choosing to introduce Anatomy of the Heads, whose latest LP, Jungle Cult Terror, I enjoyed quite a lot... even if it caused me to become suspcicious of every random groan emitted from the wood in my apartment or every shadow I happened to spot out of the corner of my eye. AoftheH (as I think they prefer) is comprised of three named individuals (Michael van Gore, Jonas Heidenritch, and Jérôme Fisch) and was formed on the island of Kiribati (allegedly) in 2015. They describe themselves (among other things) as a "psyop" on Bandcamp, which is probably true. They're very strange and their music makes me feel like I'm being manipulated in a profound way. How isn't clear- but the impression remains. Allow me to explain, if you can imagine free jazz performed in the style of raw black metal with some Pacific island motifs embedded throughout like obsidian cobra scales, then you have the basics of their sound- but not the whole story. There is an environmental factor to AoftheH's work, especially on Jungle Cult Terror, that surrounds you like a paranoid fog. A horror as light as air, one that flows into your lungs and pulls you down and into their world like your chest was filled with stones. Even though these sounds appear to be perilously close, it never feels like you can ever quite pinpoint their origins. Your line of sight is always obstructed somehow, as if the drums and moaning player responsible for this cacophony are ducking behind rotting trees or wallowing in the mud under a dense carpet of untamed underbrush. They are a mosaic of dark patterns and even darker enterprises. This eerie ambiance is summoned by the spot-on mixing, which replicates the temperature and texture of a Herschell Gordon Lewis film- wicked and uneven, but manifested with a purposeful, maligned intent that is bafflingly clear and dismayingly inviting. I don't have that much more to say about this one, other than give it a whirl, and if you need it, BetterHelp is just a web query away.*
by James Sweetlove
Mysterious experimental act Anatomy of the Heads return to make people uncomfortable, blur genre and style lines, explore dark mystical concepts and make genuinely unsettling music. Their upcoming EP uses a blend of dark ritual ambient, harsh noise, world music, drone and black metal to achieve this. The album tells an engrossing story focusing on dark rituals taking place in the jungles of Sumatra and the music transports the listener there and then prevents them from leaving or looking away.
Anatomy of the Heads became known to me after they shared their music last week on a Bandcamp Friday post I made requesting new music to listen to and I am so glad that they did. I was lucky enough to hear a full advanced stream of the project’s upcoming album Jungle Cult Terror, set for release on March 22nd. The project is a fictitious band claiming to hail from Kiribati and who have created a whole world of lore surrounding themselves and their music (learn more HERE). As with each of their previous concept driven albums, this release focuses on telling the story of the band embarking on a mystical, mind-altering adventure to dark and foreboding places. On this latest morbid outing, they offer us what is described as being a Sumatran pagan ritual. The Bandcamp description claims that the EP was recorded over three days after the band sought out local musicians playing dark ritualistic music in the jungle, music that appeared to play mysteriously over late-night radio stations in the area. You can read the full album premise on the Bandcamp page, and I highly suggest that you do as it really adds a depth and richness to the album.
With a basic understanding of what the band and the album are about, you’re ready to dive into the music itself. The EP is 6 tracks of genre defying, genuinely unsettling soundscapes. It brings to mind the music of Shibalba, relying heavily on dark ritual ambient and noise elements. These elements are then projected through a dark world music lens, featuring what comes across as haunting folk instrumental elements. All of this is then fed through an even finer lens of feedback and distortion, with black metal vocals layered over the top of it.
Inhuman howls and screeches, dark ritualistic spoken vocals and bestial shrieks can be found on numerous tracks on the EP. The band really know how to world build, as the elements presented on
the album make the epic backstory come across as almost being believable. You begin to question if they had stumbled across some demonic ritual in the jungle in a remote region of Sumatra. More
importantly though you want that movie to be made and for this EP to be the soundtrack to it, because personally that is something I would gladly go to the cinema to see (and hear).
Each track has its own unique flavour to it and presents its own sort of theme. Track 4 Battle with the Yan-gant-Y-Tan has a real tribalistic feel to it. Having actually been to Indonesia and heard this music played in temple rituals myself I can appreciate the chaotic nature of the instruments employed on this track. However, the band have gone so far beyond that and made them feel truly menacing, as if leading up to something evil approaching. The second half of this track delves deeper into this sense of dread with haunting ritualistic vocals layered over feedback, with these instruments emerging out of the void towards the end of the track. I chose this track in particular to examine for two reasons, one its one of my favourites on the album and two it’s the only single available for you all to listen to at this point in time. Just know that each track on the album feels very different to this one and as you may have noticed those black metal vocals, I discussed are nowhere to be found on this one. You’ll have to wait for the full album to be released to hear more!
From start to finish though the band never break character and never deviate from the album’s theme and essence. Overall, I was a huge fan of this release and now have a new band that I’ve become obsessed with. Keep in mind though that their previous releases are vastly different and each experiment with different genres and styles. If this album is not to your liking, then maybe their previous album A Banishment of Bloodshed and Superstition’s progressive jazz fusion/rock/world/noise will be more to your liking. Personally, I enjoyed the darkness and chaos captured on this album though and appreciate their stylistic direction.
An album review for An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual from Sickstream #3. Send to us by Sam from Ohio.
"When Emerson, Lake & Palmer are not enough Anatomy of the Heads" has become our new slogan. We can eat ELP alive in a battle of pretentiousness! I mean two of them are dead anyway. Thirty minute bass solo? You got it!
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Album review for A Banishment of Bloodshed and Superstition
by creatinsanivity (09/04/2021)
Well this is interesting! I know the following description is a bit misleading, but this album feels to me like an industrial artist and an instrumental hip hop producer collaborated to make a jazzy bunglecore album. It's like Disco Volante reinterpreted through relaxed exotica, primal jazz fusion, and copper-flavoured industrial stylings rather than genrebending twists and turns. Laden with guitar antics that remind of Pink Floyd of all things and heavily edited vocal samples(?). It's excitingly difficult to describe! Its main character is very muted though, like it was someone's hot new mix played under a layer of half a dozen blankets. Which, honestly, is pretty refreshing for this style. Musty and creative. 8/10.
Album review for A Banishment of Bloodshed and Superstition
by Albert E. Trapezoid (08/22/2021)
It makes me very happy when something new sails in from the pride of Kiribati. Especially when it’s something like this top-notch new album and, let me tell you brothers and sisters, it’s an awesome adventure. It is also, however, difficult to summarize what you’re going to hear because it does not fit neatly into one box. But that’s OK, it’s all part of the enjoyment. If you spend any time with the music of Anatomy of the Heads, or in their internet presence, you’ll quickly discover (1) they are somewhat enigmatic and (2) they have a good sense of humor. So, in keeping with what we know about the band, maybe the best description of “A Banishment of Bloodshed and Superstition!” is to say it is both mysterious and fun.
One example might be their song “Frightful Green Panic,” which has a real 1970’s vibe to it. What does that mean? Well, at times you’ll hear soft rock (but, really, it’s probably a little too weird to call it something that straightforward), funk, or progressive rock from that era. But (as with all the tracks here) those pieces come and go as the track evolves, and get blended with snippets of distorted voice samples and noise. In fact, there are many more musical elements present, like the late-night jazzy guitar in “Turning Cattle into Dust” or the exotica rhythm in “Bat Pig Medicine.” But these are only moments in those two songs. Listen closely, and you might hear snake charmer pipe, surf guitar, march rhythms, sampled voices, Sun Ra influenced keyboard noodling, and/or harsh noise. The music is layered and constantly shape-shifting; rather than worrying about the details, it’s best to just cool in the pool and waft along for the joyride of this heady ragout of sounds.
Album review for EXORCISME LANGSUNG DI DATARAN MINAHASA
by duncan.reviews (03/06/2021)
To listen to music originating from foreign countries is one of the best ideas that one can have in expanding their taste and understanding in the art. After
all, it's a universally shared experience, and should be consumed as such with a special form of in-depth tourism that often brings to fruition a great cultural enlightenment. And as if brought
about by a quick random dart thrown at a map of the Pacific Ocean, an encounter with the eldritch sounds of Anatomy of the Heads will take place within a minuscule landmass situated in
independent island state the Republic of Kiribati.
Hailing more specifically from an atoll by the name of Kiritimati, and zoomed in even closer to explore a sparsely-populated village called Banana, Anatomy of the Heads' homeland is a coral-traced haven streaked with pools and streams of milky seafoam and overlooked by perpetual blue skies, and though studying the history of this land is fascinating, its geographical beauty pales in comparison to the band's hair-raising garbles of lo-fi gloom. In studio the musicians are known to practice broadening the infinite boundaries of experimental rock, but recorded live at an overseas festival of the arts, Exorcisme Langsung Di Dataran Minahasa, a translation of "Direct Exorcism in the Minahasa Plain" in the band's Indonesian tongue, is a far cry from structure and coherency.
This garbled lo-fi tape is cobbled together by atonal radio chatter and the deathly venom of the wilderness' dark spots. In the concert recording's crevasses of relative disquiet, it's possible to hear the members of Anatomy of the Heads fiddling with their electronic control panels like mineshaft mechanisms in an excavation to the center of the earth. Exorcisme Langsung is ignited by a macabre skirmish of tribalistic jungle warfare, and while a potentially sharper execution of this vision is botched by an unstable uncertainty on what its monotone necromancy strives to accomplish, it's a fine work of oceanic talent nonetheless.
Album write-up for EXORCISME LANGSUNG DI DATARAN MINAHASA
by Jordan F.Talbot (24/05/2021)
Bizarro shamanist Drone/Noise collage, a psycho-actively potent, aggressive, portentous swirl of maligned psychedelia from the deep jungles of the sub conscious, tape decay layers and screeds of samples from impossible sources stitched into the sound, operating in impenetrable high concept and shadowy secrecy, conjuring a world of retributive curses and offerings to obscure deistic forms – two long tracks drift from malignant amplifier Drone to crushing Noise to mosquito-ridden Musique Concrete, sweltering dense palettes of hissing caustics, science fiction effluvia, B Movie absurdisms… disorientating blind alleys of melody obscured in the morass… undefinable, sorcerous sounds from far outside the perimeter fence of Harsh Noise, Industrial and Musique Concrete…
Album review for Copper Clad Coinage
by Albert E. Trapezoid (26/01/2020)
Anatomy of the Heads are a bunch of musicians from Banana (Kiribati, that is). And these Banana men released a bunch (well, three) live albums on the same day in October 2019. I picked one to discuss below.
“Copper Clad Coinage” is made up of two long-form pieces recorded live at the Gwanyongsan Arts & Culture Festival 2018, South Korea. Opener “Barnacle Headdress” is a slow synth lamentation over drone bed and bird noises. About half way through a bed of static gets louder with some noises down in the mix; I suspect they may be having a bit of fun here – throwing in things that sound like carnival noises or rewinding tape, among other interjections. The piece ultimately ends on kind of a funereal note. It’s a wonderful trip. You can get a taste here:
“Island Gigantism” starts off like exotica gone rogue, with carnival keyboard, flute drenched in echo and drone rhythm underneath. As you ride the wave of this piece you’ll also encounter sounds that are a soundtrack for your dreams – sometimes pleasant but also, at times, a little nightmarish. Overall it’s another great, dense sound journey.
And might I suggest you also poke around their website? The “AoftheH” sense of humor is well evident, and if you need it they can even help you “up your luau game.”
Album review for An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual
by siLLy_puPPy (04/10/2020)
So what do think of a band who describes itself as your favorite ChiChi fueled CIA psyop, honey-pot/money-bomb-operation that will sell all your personal information
to Korean gangsters and hot tiger moms with listeners commenting that this particular musical entity sounds like Sun Ra and King Crimson had a child that listened to Mr Bungle and subsequently
dropped out of school to pursue a career as a freelance painter and yet another who says imagine Carlos Santana and Les Claypool making love while Weather Report watches? Well, you’d probably
think that this artist is fucking nuts! And guess what! You’d be right, hehe.
ANATOMY OF THE HEADS ( or AoftheH ) is strange all the way around. First of all this bizarre sound making team of Van Gore and Christ Orf Gutsch along with a few friends started out on the island nation of Kiribati (which is pronounced KIR - i - boss) in the village of Banana (that’s right, the fruit) on the island of Kiritimati but this weirdo unit has since relocated to the USA in South Carolina. This is one of those unclassifiable acts that is so weird and outside the parameters of anything else that you can only simply tag this as experimental music. This artist has so far only released this one album titled AN ADORATION IN PRAYER AND RITUAL in 2017 and has quite an amazingly developed website for a newbie on the block.
This bizarre amalgamation of sounds is divided into three tracks each titled “Roman Numeral” but followed by a subtitle. “Roman Numeral no.1 - Trio Phantasma” is the first up and displays these guys’ affinity for an otherworldly vibe that takes extreme avant-garde angularities and channels them into post-rock-avant-jazz-fusion gone completely free improvisation. In some ways this reminds me of the Brazilian band Satanique Samba Trio which deconstructs jazz and reinterprets it in very strange twisted ways. The jazzy touches and shrill sounds the pop out of nowhere sound more like John Zorn on his most dissonant and experimental projects than anyone else although however there is a rhythmic drive that keeps the whole thing from sounding like chaos. The mix of atonal surf rock guitars and freaky electronic sounds guarantees a true trip to a musical world you never knew existed. A sax squawks too. The end devolves into pure electronic noise.
“Roman Numeral no.2 - Cubenga:Volcano God” is the more energetic of the three tracks with a steady percussive drive accompanied by the avant-prog guitar riffs which defiantly surf the backbeats and off rhythm cracks but the track also has moments that almost sound melodic and “normal” but despite threatening to break into surf rock the monster of jazz derails any attempts at full melodic completions and the track remains a rather offbeat freak of nature but then when you just start adapting to its off-kilter charm it slinks into the Weather Report zone with nice calming jazz-fusion sounds that meander into a more ominous arena that sounds exactly like a volcano god sacrifice is about to take place. One of the best features of this album is the crisp production value as every sound is gaged perfectly in relation to the next.
“Roman Numeral no.3 - Shepherd's Firth Infirmary” is the longest at over 13 minutes and likewise is the weirdest as it begins with some strange lysergic electronic sounds and on this track i can totally understand where the Sun Ra comparisons come into play. Just think of Ra’s most out there albums like “Strange Strings” where free improvisation, free jazz and musique concréte all go to the same party and have too much to drink and get all naked and craft a love child that went off to Kiribati for a holiday and sipped some strange coconut juice and had an interdimensional journey into an ahi tuna’s butt and then nirvana was reached before falling into a deep trance where alien grays whispered sonic recipes of insanity which got jumbled upon awakening and this is what resulted from the feeble attempt to recreate that experience. This one is long enough that it explore many dark recesses of the mind and all the better for it.
Wow! This is fucking cool as fuck! This is the shit avant-garde dreams are made of and fuel all my ChiChi fueled CIA psyop paranoid delusions for sure! Difficult to describe this formless amoeba music but if you like Nurse With Wound, Sun Ra (at his weirdest), John Zorn, Throbbing Gristle, Sun City Girls, Genocide Organ, NON or Psychic TV, there’s a good chance you’ll love this as well. It’s really hard to compare these improv acts to one another but for music like this to work it has to have some sort of underlying theme, a wide spectrum of variations to avoid tedium and a rich sonic palette of tones, textures and ambience. ANATOMY OF THE HEADS has all of the above and crafts interesting emotional reactions through various sonic techniques. While it’s almost impossible to convey this music through the use of language, it’s something you know that works when you hear it and whatever the secret formula is for crafting this kind of freak music, AoftheH has mastered it.
Album review for Exorcisme Langsung Di Dataran Minahasa
by ANTI: Music Review (11/07/2020)
Anatomy of the Heads always delivers adventurous orchestration’s, compounding multiple layers that brush expertly crafted sounds into sacrificial, rancorous imagery. Self-releasing Exorcisme Langsung Di Dataran Minahasa October 30, 2019 – along with various albums the same month – some symphonies perform subtlety bordering chaos and inner peace, while others obliterate this duality. Both tracks, (roughly 25 & 15 minutes long) exploit the traveler’s inner emotions; inundating sounds bashing dissonant resonance and rancorous composition’s. Each arrangement is a concinnity of the album’s core – some regions scream into an abyss; other sectors excavate gloomily waded environments textured from various hardware and surroundings – but all ambiguously transform and mutate from its original sound: embellishing Anatomy of the Heads‘s philosophy on music.
God, Weep for the Devil-Charmer! sparks dissonant pulchritude; sounds awaken a rich, tuneful haze of brightly animated instrumentation woven into a dialogue given from the mountain king – whom seeks sacred sound-objects in this temple of unguided light. There is nothing but the constant roaring of auditory activity; engulfing the listener in a duplicit landscape where noise ravages the farthest corners of this structure, and where enlightening points of serenity reign free. Dirty, undulating textures are repeated through an infinite whirlpool of mechanical clatter and dying circuitry; refined dissonance bludgeon the listener as they crescendo and shift to a sonorous world torn from betrayal. The distorted experiments are a shiny veneer for this symphonic masterpiece, blasting gyre sound colors splitting into noises where empire’s teem with bacterial, corporeal factions that only break the finite composition of hope.
Certain Death Hell-star! / The Challenge of 66 Daggers opens with high-pitched ringing hissing and crackling through its overwhelming threshold. Various reverberated, foreign clatter sound off in the distance, slowly orchestrating new architectural works. Ambient washes of white tonality draw mutated, android voices from beneath the synth’s breath; a light sparks weird socio-communicative creatures scuttling about from this monotonous stream. Suddenly, the sonic light quickly fragments into textured beauty of wonderfully complex tones that transcend into bright sonority. Extending from this, synergistic oscillations emanate from all around, running through murky waters frenziedly. Repeating this structure, we are suddenly met with harsh ambiance drawing various frequencies that drown remaining sounds; until descending into a mellifluous piano ride. Jocundly riveting, and all the more majestic; the piano takes a dip beyond the stars, swimming in its opulent waters. Forever bleeding into a new horizon, into a new journey from Anatomy of the Heads.
Album review for An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual
by SeisMo (05/13/2020)
Let’s keep this Collection rolling! Now, with 10 albums from 10 artists, each one creating something that is more than experimental; rather, at times, creative ingenuity. You may enjoy my list, you may think I’m downright retarded putting Die Form past Kraftwerk. Well, this is not structured in any particular order, so calm the ‘f’ down! – also, send me all the hate mail you want, but it doesn’t matter ordering any works of art from ‘least to greatest’; but that’s just 21 year old me. I feel like I’m getting a little off track, here’s a collection of ‘The Wonders of the World!’
Ever wondered what being stranded on an island would sound like, An Adoration in Prayer and Ritual will surely give you an interesting taste. Pumped with a nice flux of Hawaiian vibes and viscerally eccentric arrangement’s, guitar’s and classical styles seem to be shrouded in this kind of undulated noise. Softly stirring; deeply invigorating, as I listen to this album I’m filled with a tension that is somehow relaxing – yet feel like I’ve transformed into Michael Meyers everytime I listen. And, that’s a good thing, I enjoy walking around the neighborhood, slowly, stealthily, looking for my next victim – but you know, that’s just me, I guess.