Velvet Cacoon - _Genevieve_
(Full Moon Productions, 2004)
by: T. DePalma (9 out of 10)
_Genevieve_ is the first officially sanctioned release of this Portland, USA based group that has been the subject (more than the cause) of much (online) speculation and conversation. One hopes this autumn release can now control the faceless storm of housewife's gossip that has centered around who they are, their unconventional recording techniques, and what they stand for -- oddly, the most ripples have been created by this last small "mystery".

Upon release of this album the band has openly described itself as "Eco-Fascist"; this alluringly recursive term is subjectively applied to different environmental groups' activities, but is primarily affixed to the writings of Finnish philosopher Pentti Linkola. Without steering too far from caveat into lecture, I'll note only that it is a unique ideology based on curtailing humanity for the purpose of a holistic preservation. Suffice to say, anyone who owns an album by certain and numerous black metal, folk or Pagan metal artists from Norway, Poland or the Czech Republic for starters, yet is still irked by the romanticism of nature within their grim microcosm, has let little else but their wallet absorb the totality of the past decade. But this description, which has turned out to be more loaded than it should be, is only legible from the Full Moon Productions website; there are no interviews as of yet that the band has used to promote their viewpoint and there are no lyrics within the purposely minimal design of the CD booklet, which leaves any arguments or propaganda therein represented purely by sound.

Ultra-fuzz distortion flows throughout seven tracks in contemplative mid-tempo chord progressions that are defined by the warm crackle of the "Dieselharp": a guitar that is literally fuelled by gasoline. This invention produces something like a cross between Abyssic Hate's _Suicidal Emotions_ release and the bleak reverb of Mayhem's _De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas_. The actual compositions reflect a similar minimalist influence.

It is not long into the opening piece, "1", before the listener is brought into contact with Velvet Cacoon's most bizarre musical adjustment, which dissolves the song's more traditional rhythms into an ambient void that has little in common with black metal or any other genre -- it's more like sonar. If there was anything I could immediately compare this atmosphere with, it would be Burzum's "Rundgang Um Die Transzendentale Saule Der Singularitat", but this is something much more unique and refined; as the second track "P.S. Nautical" further hints, the direction is concentrated on achieving a new kind of elemental effect, something that the band succeeds at remarkably with their strange hydrophonic blend.

The vocals, which often sound like some kind of vampiric gurgle, are featured relatively low in the mix, periodically interjected within the sea of steadily programmed drum machine and static riffs traced by a soft hue of keyboards, influencing a tasteful aura of submerging, or weightlessness (there is a one-word key to the band's narcotic affinities written inside the cover sleeve giving more insight into the themes this album is predicated upon). Midway through _Genevieve_ a more tragic design surfaces in "Laudanum", an intricately brooding piece with an unsung chorus of crashing moods very reminiscent of Blut Aus Nord's style renovation on _The Work Which Transforms God_. The more "black metal" portion of this set ends in the title track; sinisterly creeping but forceful, the song violates with a stealth grace that affirms itself while paying tribute to the second wave (of which it is one of the few consequences to be appreciated today). Seventeen minutes of further marine-like drifting conclude the album.

The fusion of these numerous developments generates a deep, living structure of music (more classical than most) that contains a basic melody riding over an assemblage of furtive noises and deviations within the whole, each harmonizing to create an orchestra that smoothly vibrates only a small percentage above non-existence. The charm of _Genevieve_ then, for this reviewer at least, is contained in the lingering state of imagination induced by both its direct and apparent sound -- whose formation approaches the cosmic.

5/23/2005 T DePalma Velvet Cacoon: The Cislunar Fog
7/18/2005 T DePalma 8 Velvet Cacoon - Northsuite
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