CD & free CC download, Tympanik Audio, 2008
In this day and age, where excellent electronic music is abundant and generally not very hard to find (if you make the small effort to search for it), it’s rare that I’m actually moved beyond the aesthetic pleasure of hearing something really good. Maybe I’ve just become jaded from being exposed to so much music throughout the years, I don’t know. But Ad·ver·sary’s (a.k.a. Jairus Khan) debut full-length album, “Bone Music,” moved me to feeling… more.
That said, “Bone Music” is also a significant release on a completely different level. It was released under a Canadian Creative Commons license, which means you can download the album for free, with liner notes and everything, from his website. If you’re so inclined, you can also do the man, and his record label Tympanik Audio, a favour by actually buying the CD from him.
This isn’t a groundbreaking album by any means. It is, however, a deeply personal album made from a masterfully produced mix of genres. A lot of the more danceable songs (read: potential club-stompers) on “Bone Music” have a structure, drive, length and beat buildup similar to progressive psytrance, but with the introverted characteristic of old school post-industrial gloom, the stylistic (almost theatrical) variation in rhythm and melody seen in Big Beat music, and sometimes even the no-nonsense, hard-edged abrasiveness of hardcore techno, darkcore and powernoise. The bass-heavy, contemplative and minimalistic synth lines (contrasting the thumping, driving rhythms) build up to a sudden shift in mood, an outward-reaching climax that lasts several minutes, making it hard for any listener to not get up and dance.
The use of breaks and rhythm in songs such as “No Exit,” “Just (Spooks)” and “Number Nine” remind me somewhat of Iszoloscope, but the melodies have a certain air of melancholy introspectiveness that more than anything makes me think of Coil. That air of melancholy is even more noticeable on the slower tracks that – instead of fast, driving rhythms – rely on heavy, tribal percussion (“International Dark Skies”), acoustic strings (the very dark “Friends of Father”) and even drone rock (in the Swans tribute, “Waiting For Gira”), making for some exceptionally powerful songs.
I’m not completely sure what it is about this album. It almost forces me look back at my life. Listening to this, I think back to being a little boy, my dad listening to old Pakistani folk songs on the stereo, and adventure movies on TV. I don’t know if it’s because it’s simply that fucking good, or if it’s just the way that the references in the samples (like cult TV-series “The Prisoner”) coupled with the melancholy, bassy melodies and drum work, somehow appeals to my subconscious.
In the end, the only negative thing I really have to say about this album is – and while I’m sure it’s a good way to help it gain some much needed attention – three of the four remixes on the album (though not bad by any means!) don’t really do anything for me at all. However, the final track, the Ad·ver·sary remix of the Urusai song “Learned Helplessness” is nothing short of stellar, and fits perfectly with the rest of the songs on “Bone Music.”
— Jonas Mansoor