There are phases in all our lives where we have to deal with grief. That harrowing time where for a while, everything points towards sorrow and darkness. Sometimes as a shock and sometimes as a form of universal relief, these times change our futures forever…
Perhaps having recently spent time clattered around in that very headspace, this vast collection Works for Abattoir Ferme 2007-2011 by Kreng may have seemed like an ill-advised place to dwell.
The ghoulish black sleeve, a notion of abattoirs and even the meaning of kreng (a cadaver or carcass in a state of decay) quickly feels like this might just be somehow needlessly grim. But somehow, despite the gothic mist that hangs throughout this 3-hour drift, there is something deeply magnetic rising out the darkness here.
Four 50-minute pieces, each draped over one entire slab of vinyl, unfolding like the grimiest, most cobwebbed slow monitor pan over a moonlit world. The collections title, refers to the fact all the music here was created as soundtracks to the theatrical experimentation of the Belgian collective Abattoir Fermé. They describe the arc of their work as “a fascination for themes such as the metropolis, private backrooms, cinema, horror, the human body, the grotesque and burlesque, rituals, the enigma, the underground, outsiders and ‘all things deviant”. Separate from their intended visual elements or narratives, we have time to float in pure sonic drama.
The music throughout is by Belgian composer Pepjin Caudron know as Kreng, pointing towards broadly ambient and cavernous waves, but always against some sense of dread or tension. Whilst the notion of music that is scary is perhaps extremely rare at OBLADADA we will admit to actually getting quite unsettled one late night listening. Whilst the overall effect was amazing, there was enough rumbling and clanking hidden within the sound to trick to our somehow fogged brain, that maybe we were not alone …
Despite this wobble, the music has continued to suck us back into its mysteriously attractive gloom. The preacher’s intensive exorcism looming into focus late in Tourniquet, or the violent orchestra slashes of Snuff feel like completely logical parts of this macabre vocabulary. Woven into these elements, are vast weather fronts that feel like a GAS interpolating William Basinski, as infinite banks of strings throb into the cosmos.
Perhaps most surprisingly the final piece Monkey provides the biggest curveball of the entire collection. Snatches of violent drums, seesawing orchestration, mutterings, and further huge voids eventually lead to a false calm… Only in the closing 5 minutes to mutate into thumping techno. Shepard’s tones and IDM layers erupt into ever more violent versions of themselves and as a whole thing align
s into some hellish flame-licked nightclub.
Whilst Works for Abattoir Ferme 2007-2011 occupies a huge grim footprint, there is a sense its all required to help frame a surprisingly large variety of moods and textures. Like the best explorations of horror, this collection is a study in filmic tension that makes the imagination expect some form of grotesque, only to never quite materialise.
Odd, cathartic, unsettling but somehow not unwelcoming.
Works for Abattoir Ferme 2007-2011 is out now and available as a 4LP set and digital