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Reviews
Korperschwache - Eight Velvet Paintings for Helen Keller
Sunday, February 01 2009 @ 01:00 AM PST
Contributed by: S:M:J63

Eight Velvet Paintings for Helen Keller

Artist: Korperschwache United States

Title: Eight Velvet Paintings for Helen Keller

Label: Inam Records United States

Genre: Guitar Drone / Shoegaze

Track Listing:

01 The Phoenix Descends (Sunset on Mars)
02 Eating Pages Torn from the Apocrypha
03 Seven Sisters of the Arsia Mons
04 Scenes from the Children’s Crusade (The Sea Does not Part)
05 Sand in the Gears of Time and History
06 Taking Metaphysics for a Test Drive
07 Black Helicopters
08 Holy Ass Mountain (A Version)

I can safely say that, in all probability, it is highly unlikely that Helen Keller, the American deafblind author and political activist, would have liked this, no matter how lusciously velvety the paintings are. However, even knowing that, this doesn’t mean that WE shouldn’t take a liking to it because, in all honesty, there is a great deal to like about it. Just like velvet the fabric, it comes in many shades, colours and weights, from the delightfully lightweight and bright to the stiflingly heavy and dolorous, as well as from the smooth to the heavily brocaded.

Some tracks, like the opener (‘The Phoenix Descends’) and the follow-on (‘Eating Pages Torn from the Apocrypha’), just invite you to wrap yourself in their gorgeously sweet and lushly overdriven high-flown tones, like some serenely blissful cocoon – maybe this is what the ultimate state of Nirvana feels like. The chords and melodies on both these pieces conspire to effect a stately refusal to be affected by gravity, and indeed they soar graciously and magnificently into the air, akin to some exotically rare bird from myth and fable. This is the kind of mythic beauty that many have sought for and failed to find, as it is always glimpsed at the edges of vision and geography, just at that point where it’s ultimately unreachable. Make no mistake, these songs want (nay, DEMAND) you to seek the treasures hidden within, no matter how far and how high they may fly. ‘Eating Pages...’ especially, is the epitome of that far off glimpse, that almost indistinct and shadowy distantly animated speck, but which yet broadcasts magnificence, splendour and wonder. It also contains a lightness, a filigree delicacy and a slow-motion graceful refinement - even so, it is traced with a strength and power that lifts both the spirit and soul.

Contrastingly we have tracks of the nature of ‘Scenes from the Children’s Crusade (The Sea Does Not Part)’ which is rawer and less shy about showing its power. This a solid wall of behemoth crunch and piercing, wailing feedback, sketching out and blocking in a picture of a towering edifice, monolithic stones expertly crafted in a conspiratorial mystery to confound the ages and reaching beyond the clouds. At one and the same instant it is both IMpressive AND OPpressive, its sheer weight and scale striking both awe and fear into our hearts. We want to touch it, yet we fear its malign influence if we do.

Somewhere in between falls ‘Sand in the Gears of Time and History’, a heady mixture of soaring gracility and monumental weight, like some seemingly ungainly-appearing creature of goliath bulk but which, subsequent to take-off, turns into a faultless ballerina of the air. It is indeed a feat when a piece can both hold and reconcile apparent contradictions within itself, but Korperschwache elucidate and delineate the fullest outlines of this beast with an enviable facility.

This is, in my view, a magnificent album, the result of a couple of musicians (RKF and Doktor Omega) marshalling their broad range of talents just like master tacticians creating effective strategies so that they can produce the optimum result for a given scenario. The songs trace a path through some magnificent and stunning territory, negotiating landscapes both bounteously beautiful and treacherously dangerous, yet, despite the perils and pitfalls, there is always something to distract our attention, ignite our interest and fully engage us. ‘Eight Velvet Paintings...’ is shiveringly beautiful and treacherous, a thing that can both enlighten us and simultaneously kill us. After all, beauty and magnificence can hide in even the bleakest of places.

     


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