Last Visible Dog drop a hydrogen psych-bomb with the release of the monumental six CD set, "Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box." This compilation is a massive force to be reckoned with. With over seven hours of music, it should practically have its own zipcode.
First, I'll mention the artists who are on here because there's no way I'll be able to cover them all individually: Black Forest/Black Sea, Birchville Cat Motel, Wolfmangler, Loren Chasse, Bardo Pond, es, Andrea Belfi & Stefano Pilia, Sunken, Kulkija, Tomutonttu, UP-TIGHT, Flies Inside the Sun, Uton, mudboy, Steven R. Smith, Keijo, Doktor Kettu, My Cat is an alien, One Inch of Shadow, Fursaxa, Ashtray Navigations, Peter Wright, Geoff Mullen, Urdog, Miminokoto, Area C, Ben Reynolds, Seht, Avarus, Renato Rinaldi, Matt De Gennaro. Hello All-Star team!
Reviewing six CDs filled to the brim with tracks from many of your favorite artists is somewhat of a daunting task. But here we go, into the ether...
Black Forest/Black Sea kick things off right with the shimmering decadence and hair-raising stomp of "Inepta." There are numerous movements within its near 17 minutes, but BF/BS jump back and forth with no problem. Atmospheric guitar wails reach out from the great divide to trap the listener in a frenzy. Cello screeches feel like the wind chasing you down and pummelling you into the ground. It's cathartic and magical. Along with the following organic drone from Birchville Cat Motel, BF/BS help get you in the right frame of mind to experience this set. This is the perfect way to begin this massive journey. The understated organic beauty of Loren Chasse's "Of 'the Carapace and Its Soul-Life'" is mesmerizing.
As disc two starts off, Finland's es gives us three tracks. Beginning with the plink-plonking minimalism of "Maailmarauha," we are set up for the third track, "Pianokaari." This is one of the Elegy Box's greatest contributions. A mess of piano chords rise and fall in succession while es's voice lifts the entire piece up toward the heavens. This is ambient magic. Antony Milton and Stefan Neville's Sunken project makes an appearance with the melancholic "Stellar's Sea Cow." Strained guitar notes line the desolate coastline's of this piece. It's enchanting, and few tracks capture the true meaning of the Elegy Box like this. It is a true hymn to extinction. Kulkija's contribution was originally released in limited-fashion on 267 Lattajjaa. Our review of that from last year can be seen here
. The second disc (which is perhaps my favorite), ends with a hynpotic five song contribution from the master of Mordor himself, Tomutonttu (aka Jan Anderz?n). Electronic tribal chants, spastic reverberations, and an overall sense of untamed enthusiasm highlight Anderz?n's contributions. Overall, and perhaps unexpectedly, Tomutonttu's offerings are the best.
Up-Tight open the proceedings on the third disc, with their spaced out incantations. "Falling Into a Doze" plods along beautifully with soaring electric guitars and a simple bass line that keeps things moving. Mudboy's "Terry Shiva" is full of organ weirdness, and is a fantastic sidestep after the droning madness from Flies Inside the Sun and Uton. Once the treated casio beats come inton the mix, you'll be whisked away to another planet entirely. This is a great track. Steven R. Smith definitely doesn't disappoint with "A Sun Enshrouded by Moths." His trademark angular guitar pulses are a great contrast to Mudboy. They are covered in the salt of the earth, searching out the real meaning behind the loss of species explored on the Elegy Box. Smith nails it.
Keijo is perhaps my favorite artist on the planet today. His music channels ancient spirits and expands your mind. The wise Finnish sage opens disc four with the beautiful "Getting Through." Synthesizer drones and minimal electronic percussion are the main weapons of choice here. "Getting Through" will lull you into a trance. It's like a hallucinogenic ride through the magic kingdom. It is fabulous. "Reset of Dark" from Doktor Kettu follows up Keijo's optimistic flow. Doktor Kettu is almost like the anti-Keijo. There's a similar approach in the music, but the result is the complete antithesis of "Getting Through." It's a great job in sequencing putting these two tracks together. Poland's One Inch of Shadow (an excellent, but often overlooked group, sadly) give us the perfect song for a wake. "You'll Miss Me at the End" is filled with solemn trumpet taps and dense, forest drones. Vocals come in about halfway through, eulogizing what has been lost. This is a stunning piece of music. I really hope this gets more people to pay attention to this great band. And not to be overlooked, Fursaxa closes the disc wonderfully with two spellbinding tracks. Does anyone have a voice as good as Tara Burke?
Disc five and we're still going strong. It's impressive that this far in, you don't lose interest. Moon does such a great job keeping this thing flowing. Ashtray Navigations and their ode to the Mysterious Starling (in four parts) is the first thing on this disc. Phased out whirrs and drones move in and out of the stratosphere. Phil Todd shows off his skill and utilizes multiple styles here. Great stuff. Geoff Mullen offers up tripped-out acoustic dirges on "Great Auk part I & II" and "Great Auk part III." These two tracks shine under the summer sun. Minimal reverberant ambience adds a nice bit of texture as these songs take you on a lazy ride down the Mississippi. I love the minimal spasms of Miminokoto's "Hiibite." Slowed-down psychedelic rock rarely sounds this good. Masami Kawaguchi's guitar solos and vocal incantations are fucking great. This is one of my favorite things of Miminokoto's that I've heard. Really great.
Finally, we get to the last disc in this six disc bohemoth. Newcomer and Providence native, Area C, have the honor of starting off the last disc with a bang. Methodic, cerebral drones built around guitar and farfisa make up the bulk of the 19 minute "Chain Bridge." Hints of Birchville Cat Motel flicker in the mix before being washed away. This is a beautiful piece from an artist that warrants further consideration. New Zealand's Seht offers us one of the most minimal pieces in "Catchpool 01." Quiet synthetic notes bury their collective head in the sand. It's a contemplative piece with a lot of room for the listener to project their own images and ideas. Seht also gets bonus points for the effective use of the sound of a cigarette lighter. Avarus comes next and their Finnish spirit is bursting at the seams. More forest gnome romp and stomp from these Nordic masters. If any group uses detuned instruments as effectively, I want to know who it is. Renato Rinaldi, who blew my mind with his CD release earlier in the year on LVD, gives us another quiet, acoustic composition that utilizes the sound of empty space. Guitar, harmonium, bass, dulcimer, and voice are the instruments used here, and Rinaldi combines the various tones and textures perfectly. I don't know where this guy came from, but he's quickly becoming one of my favorite musicians on the planet. This piece, "Conilurus Albipes," is easily one of the Elegy Box's best. And finally, we come to the last track... "Passenger Pigeons" from Matthew De Gennaro. "Passenger Pigeons" and "Conilurus Albipes" sound as though they could be two parts from the same song. The overall feel is quite similar, and the impact is just as strong. These two beautiful moments rejoice in the spirits of the fallen, telling us that despite everything we've just seen and heard, we can make a difference. De Gennaro's piece is full of hope and optimism. It is the aural embodiment of tears of joy. This is the perfect end to this amazing... AMAZING journey.
Monumental is the only word that can encompass the magnitude of this compilation. Last Visible Dog deserves all the credit in the world for such an undertaking. There is simply little to say about something so great. My hat is off to Chris Moon and Last Visible Dog for sticking with this and making it a reality. "Invisible Pyramid: Elegy Box" will go down as one the great compilations of the last 50 years. Maybe that's excessive, but once you've experienced it, there is no denying it's long-lasting impact. This is a beautiful world, folks, and we're only lucky enough to be living in it. 10/10 -- Brad Rose (24 October, 2005)