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Experimental Music Review: "Victor Gloriosa" by Armageddon Speaking

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.


Album Impressions

Armageddon Speaking’s Victor Gloriosa is a sonic exploration of interacting tonal, timbral and textural elements that foregrounds hypnotic repetition,challenging sounds and a feeling of intricate interactions between subtly shifting harmonics. I wouldn’t call this easy listening by any stretch of the imagination but it is most assuredly interesting listening. Sometimes getting outside of one’s comfort zone is the best approach to take to keep one’s mind engaged which definitely happens here.

The overall feeling of the album is one of clear sounds with unique timbres and textures creating varied patterns that interlock and interact, forming trance-inducing lines. Synth tones move from fullness to thin, tight noise as they become a solid sonic mass. Structures form out of the repeating sonic patterns and are subsumed into them again.

There’s a hypnotic quality to the album, creating a rhythmic pulsation as percussion adds more structure and shape to the sounds, providing them a direction as they sweep and swirl. The sonic space is free of reverb or echo to distract from the auditory interactions that make up the music.

Throughout the album, there’s a profound sense of drifting on a tide of constantly varying sound. There’s a vaguely unsettling quality about the sonic interactions that occur along with darker, heavier sounds from dense bass that shifts below the other elements.

Heavy weight moves and shadows rise through the sounds. The broken, wandering feeling in the music persists in spite of the trance-like repetition that holds it together. I have a sense of disconnection that can verge into discomfort when I listen to Victor Gloriosa’s soundscape unfolding. A sense of desolation and emptiness creep into the music, even when it becomes hypnotic it still feels bereft.

At times, the darkness spills over into rage. The synths roam through a jagged soundscape at times that is full of harshness and even ferocity. There is a sense of something fanged and angry, hidden and waiting to strike at points throughout the album. Muscled tension waits in abeyance below the rough surface as it growls and buzzes. The anger is always in check, but one has the feeling that it might spill over at any moment.

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The interactions between the different synth parts create microtones and subtle shifts of harmony as they work together, entwining one sound into another and shifting them relative to one another. The ways in which the sounds interweave makes them feel layered, even though the basic building blocks are fairly minimalist.

Armageddon Speaking seems to focus on the humming, buzzing elements as the sounds butt up against each other and resonate through the tracks. Light sometimes seeps from the music, suffusing everything to counter the angry darkness. The constant static that crackles and edges the music leavens the brightness but the notes still glow.

Repeating notes create warp and woof like a woven garment, threads running lengthwise and crosswise to form a whole cloth. I do like the sense of cohesion that it creates. There’s never a melody of any discernible type in the music.

The main emphasis is on pattern, texture, timbral interactions and interrelationships. At times, I almost get the feeling of an auditory sculpture rather than music, one that uses notes to create tangible “surfaces” and an almost physical sense of volume.

Armageddon Speaking pushes the boundaries of what music is and does. This is music that requires concentration and patience when listening. It rewards the listener by providing an endlessly varying series of sonic interactions that rely on subtle shadings of sound moving around one another. There’s an anchoring feeling in the percussion that ties the tracks together and a sense of powerful weight that permeates much of the music.

I find Victor Gloriosa a challenging listening experience. I think it is music that suits certain times and moods. I wouldn't listen to it every day, but I do appreciate what Armageddon Speaking is doing by providing a musical and sonic challenge to his listeners.

© 2022 Karl Magi

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