Sunday, April 1, 2012

Yayla- Sathimasal(2012)

Yayla- Sathimasal

Bleak and dessicated, dripping with sorrow, Sathimasal will smother you. Even experienced spelunkers of cavernous, coffin-dwelling chasms will be overwhelmed with the thick layer of decaying flesh and minds dripping all over this noise. It's oppressive, at times too oppressive and prone to falling into ruts from which it takes forever for songs to escape. This one man project from Turkey has churned out a collection of tunes so massive and over-stuffed, they can barely be absorbed in a single listen. But there in lies the charm of Sathimasal: it's not perfect, but it's an intense, full body listen that demands attention.

Sathimasal takes influence from where ever it can find it: elements of Beherit, Emperor, Burzum, the various Mories projects, Lunar Aurora, Incantation. Look at that list... it's easy to see how Sathimasal could really be that damn oppressive and atmospheric. Only when one begins listening to the album, they come to a realization. It's all oppressive atmosphere. Sathimasal is one massively large piece of ambient skull hammering. There is very little in terms of dynamic progressions or even slightly adventurous musicianship: riffs, bass lines and drums are repeated at a machine-like pace for long, barren stretches of minimalism drenched in a swampy compound of brilliant, cavernous production and massive, overwhelming keyboards. All the individual tracks pretty much follow these same basic patterns: repetition, shift, repetition, shift, etc. For some seriously long tracks: the shortest track "Fordreame Wonderlore," an all instrumental track, comes in at a puny 7:38. This album was quite literally designed to inundate you.

Yet despite this, Sathimasal works most of the time. In the right frame of mind, in the right atmosphere, it can be utterly transfixing. Its almost has a Drone-like quality to it, which makes it feel like a unique experience. And it's the production that makes it all possible. The guitars and drums have a distant quality to them, while the bass rumbles the very Earth right underneath the surface. The keyboards overwhelm the other instruments in just the right fashion to creat a swirling, vortex like effect. The only thing I can compare it to is S.V.E.S.T.'s Urfaust, though the production here is much stronger. This is easily my favorite production job of 2012 so far.

Sathimasal is a charming album, one that appeals to my personal taste quite nicely. But it's not perfect, particularly in the song-writing department: the repetition starts to become a crutch at several points, and feels artificially extended from time to time for the sake of testing listener endurance. As charming as being blasted by the same riff can be for a time, there is a breaking point and Sathimasal continuously push it on every track. The final, vocal and keyboard section of "Emperor; Elegy To Wars Never Fought" is incredibly beautiful for the first few minutes, and by the end you are ready to strangle the female vocalist and break the keyboard player's hands. Sathimasal is in desperate need of some self-editing, and I can't help but wonder if we would have had a classic on our hands had Emir Togrul, the man behind Yayla, had shown some self restraint.

Which he did not... at fucking all. Sathimasal is a tyrant who wants complete control, and it's going to get it at any cost. I find this both appealing and yet slightly boring, and I admit that Sathimasal has been perhaps the hardest album for me to gauge so far this year. I've been listening to it with almost religious zeal, yet never really become as enamored with it like I want to. I can say this: Sathimasal is an album that I think just about everyone should try to experience, to see just how much abuse you can take. A powerful atmospheric experience perhaps, but not always a powerful listening experience.

Rating: 7.5/10

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