Zaum – Eidolon (I Hate, 24 October 2016)
We’ve covered Canadian bands plenty of times around here, but I’m pretty sure this is the first from New Brunswick. Zaum have been around since about 2013 and last fall’s Eidolon was their second full-length, but somehow this dynamic duo of doom had escaped my attention until the recent announcement that they’ll be hitting the road for an August tour across their homeland.
Having done some pretty extensive touring over the years but mainly in Europe, the dates for this large-scale Canuck tour (also featuring Ontario’s Flying Fortress) will be listed down below, after we’ve listened to Eidolon!
The album contains just two songs — “Influence of the Magi” and “The Enlightenment” — but each one is almost exactly twenty-one minutes in length (which would almost lead one to believe they had been specifically crafted with the intention of fitting perfectly on each side of an LP).
The first of these opens with sustained monk-like chanting, and flutes (that sound a bit like Nik Turner). Soft, resonant bass tones gradually give way to some heavier stuff, chiefly consisting of a unison blend of bass+sitar, along with pulsating drumming and clean singing — all of this extremely echoey. Sometimes faraway, dreamy, and exotic, but sometimes kicking back into heavier mode, incorporating some more chanting here and there; really the best way to describe this would be “drone” but not nearly as boring as that genre typically seems (at no point do I find myself looking at the counter, wondering whether it will be over soon, which is normally the case when hearing something this long and often-repetitive).
The second track starts with a deeper-sounding woodwind, a melody more reminiscent of Ravel‘s “Bolero” (the minor-key bit that starts around 2:01, in case that link doesn’t work correctly). Over the first several minutes, this is accompanied by quiet background noises of birds and nature. About a quarter of the way in, the drums jump in unexpectedly, and then the bass/sitar combo. A little less slow here — more of a medium tempo — but very HEAVY vibes. And dark, really dark. Almost halfway through, the vocals emerge — always echoey but sometimes singing in a “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” sort of way, while elsewhere more talk-singy in an angry, chastising sort of way. Once more, the track is fairly repetitive but manages to hold the listener in a rapt, trancelike state throughout, until it ultimately ends like it began (but now with the addition of rain sounds).
Overall, the semi-exotic feeling and the exploratory nature of these songs brings to mind the experimental psychedelia of songs like “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun” and “A Saucerful of Secrets,” placed within the context of a doom/drone metal aesthetic. If that sounds intriguing to you, go grab yourself a copy of Eidolon right here. (And Canadian readers, check the comments section to see when Zaum will be visiting a city near you!)
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