Label: Zann’s Music
Bandcamp stream: Link
There’s often a distinction drawn between “art” and “enjoyment” when it comes to music. To say something is artistic often implies that it is not enjoyable in a way that music with more immediate, less lofty goals is. It’s not an view that I agree with, and Comunión, the latest release by Argentinian band Asilo is an example of why that is. Bringing together elements of sludge, doom, crust, as well as noise and an artistic edge, they have created an album that is enjoyable on a basic, visceral level, whilst also possessing something deeper and more ambitious than much music being recorded today. That they feature two bass players and no guitarist only adds to this.
Of course, simply having an unconventional line-up is not enough to warrant something being described as creative or artistic. Rather, it is what the members do with their instruments that decides whether something qualifies as such, and Asilo most certainly do. As would be expected from their line-up – which also includes one member using “analogue devices”, which is presumably what accounts for much of the noise element, whether it be harsh or subtle as the song demands.- their music is generally heavy and dense, packing a punch on a very primal level. At points it comes across as an even heavier version of Iron Monkey, possessing a similar sense of desperation and anxiety, as well as some excellent riffs and bass leads.
It’s not all about heaviness, though. Comunión features several piano-led interludes that are quite calming and beautiful, and serve a vital role in anchoring the album. 53 minutes of nothing but bass-lead heaviness would become an endurance test and remove any sense of enjoyment from the album, but aided as they are by these moments of calm, the heavier songs maintain their impact and thrill, rather than risking becoming monotonous or overbearing. This is not to say that the heavier tracks are one-dimensional; there is a good sense of variety to them, aided by changes of tempo, emphasis, and occasional samples. Rather, it is that they are so heavy and powerful, that after a prolonged period of them with no break, they would surely lose some of their potency. Likewise, when some jazz instruments are influenced towards the end of “Miedo y Curiosidad”, the contrast and effect is absolutely sublime, as is the mixture of heaviness and piano for album closer “La Ultima Voluntad”.
My only real issue with the album is to do with the vocals. Uniformly harsh and all but indecipherable, the shrieks, growls, and shouts that make up the vocals are slightly buried in the mix behind the bass guitars, and they suffer as a result. They don’t quite come across as one-dimensional, but they are the least effective aspect to the band, though I sense this is more due to their placing in the mix than anything else. When a spoken sample about the nature of music is used during album highlight “Arquitectura del Silencio”, and is placed above the instruments in the mix, the effect is obvious, especially when compared with the vocals which soon follow.
Even so, this takes little away from an album that is both primal and ambitiously artistic in its nature. It is an album with thrills that are both immediate and buried deeper, and has a lot to offer. The overwhelming bass-lead nature of the sound will not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate heaviness, and the talent required to sustain it over a prolonged duration, and for those who can find the beauty in dense, aggressive music, Comunión will surely appeal.
Comunión is available for stream and download through Bandcamp; CD copies can also be purchased via Bandcamp.