Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hua†a / Bitcho split (album review)

Artwork by Benjamin Moreau
This vinyl only split LP was one of the bigger surprises of the first Super Doom Charts.  Coming in at #32 on a critics list of 200 albums is no mean feat, especially for something that was not (at the time) readily available for quick and easy download.  It was totally off my radar until the votes started rolling in actually and it, on its surface, didn't seem like the kind of thing that would appeal to me.  It's okay to be wrong every now and then.  This split is made up off two lengthy tracks, one per band and clocks in at a robust 33 minutes.

French stoner/psych quartet Huaa kick things off in massive style.  You better strap yourselves in and sit tight because for the next 21 minutes, Huaa will be dumping their megaton booster rockets down around your head as they take off for the sludgier back roads of outer space only to be pounded by asteroids, frozen by the void and crushed by gravity all before burning up on re-entry.

Huaa's single track, is actually made up of two parts:  "The Retaliator" and "Hercolobus".  Almost halfway through the track, the band breaks the listener's concentration / meditation with a quick pitch shift and a gee pushing sharp veer off into another direction.  Now the band has sent the listener into another section of space, from the light strangulating darkness of the void to the multihued swirling miasma of a gas giant.  However, the band travels too close, being grabbed in a nearly irresistible gravity pull, the beauty of the surface of the planet / nascent sun now lost among the horror of frantic survival.  Images of clunky spacesuit coffins not designed for gravity, tossing in freefall.

Dutch drone sextet Bitcho closes the affair with "10050 Cello Drive".  For some seven or eight minutes the band drones mechanically, building up a cloud of synthesized atmosphere like a roadie with a fog machine before a show. It has to be just right before the band can come out to pounce.  Finally, the band do rush in and it's like hitting them mid-song: the vocal melody sounds like the "wrap-up" part of the song, rather than the "lead-up", if that's not too stupid a way to put it.

Because we only get one track per side on this split, and because each band does an excellent job of sticking with the musical theme of droning atmospheres and melody, it feels like a complete work.  When you think about, 33 minutes isn't actually that long for a record, it only seems longer due to the two individual tracks being what they are.  For that reason, it plays out a bit like 2001: A Space Odyssey in reverse.  We're introduced to a small cast of characters who travel to Jupiter and Beyond, then we abruptly change our cast for a slightly more down to earth approach (but we still get a comfortable and catered trip to the moon) on Side B, which isn't even mentioning the drone which is equivalent to the molasses pace of Kubrick and his penchant for making the audience stare at a single image for seemingly minutes at a time. All the while the two tracks retain the flavor of a cohesive whole.  A single work, a single vision produced by two different bands.

Artwork by Benjamin Moreau
This split definitely takes you to another place and time, giving credence to the theory that time is relative.  Otherworldly atmospheres interact with strong melodic passages to account for the feeling that a full and ultimately satisfying listening experience has taken place even though just barely over a half an hour has elapsed during but two songs.  Both bands showcase a sound that is best heard while surfing the cosmic spaceways.  Each side of the split has melody and droning buzz in abundance.  This split is some of the heaviest space rock one is likely to hear.  Each band stares into the abyss, not with fear in their hears or trembling hands and voices but with a steady gaze, running, screaming into the maw.

Rating: 4/5

Total Run Time: 36:29

From: Renne, France / Roermond, Netherlands

Genre: Psychedelic, Drone, Stoner, Space Rock

Reminds me of: Acid King, Demon Lung, Hour of 13, Shroud Eater

Release Date: March 22, 2013

Hua†a on facebook
Albino Python on facebook

Huaa website
Bitcho website


1 comment:

  1. 2001 in reverse - yeah man the monolith appeared but I got stupider and stupider until I became a dribbling monkey throwing bones in the air.


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