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Critikal – Graphorrhea

Critikal - Graphorrhea

CD, Kvitnu, 2008

“Graphorrhea” is defined as “the writing of long lists of meaningless words, as occurs in some manic disorders,” a confused and volatile state which is very much the order of the day for the forty-minute duration of this offering from Critikal, here making a one-time only appearance on the Kvitnu label.
Opener “Tesseract of Distrust” sets a glitchy breakbeat pace, but this is no one trick pony. Throughout the album’s thirteen tracks, the Critikal ensemble guide you with an assured and even hand though an assortment of soundscapes ranging from the jittery insectile wail of “Scud Twitcher” to the cold shudder of “Wrath Rationale,” progressing to grinding intensity in “Mind Opacity” and the semi-tribal beat/swamp rock guitar combo of “Linear Fear.” This is a place where a track may start in one place but ends up in quite another. “Prime Seed,” for example, with its stop/start opening suddenly blossoms into a fully fledged aural assault, from which you emerge breathless into the void of “The Place Below End” before the organic chittering and oddly 50s-style advert-like melody of album closer “The Truce” decline into nothingness. You’ll likely find yourself wanting to go back and explore the album again, and you certainly should, as each listen reveals another layer of intricacies beneath the deceptively smooth surface.
It would be unfair not to mention the low points, though there are few. I disliked the circus music-tinged “Rapture Periods,” and “Sine Verbiage” is possibly the only moment that feels like an intentional bridge between tracks. Otherwise there is a distinct lack of the contrived cleverness that has unfortunately become synonymous with so-called “experimental electronica.” The distortion techniques alone are cause for celebration, here deployed in a way that enhances rather than occludes the sound, but it is the ambience of the piece which is really breathtaking: a palpable menace and coldness throughout, a very real sense of utter isolation, of removal from what is happening around oneself – while at the same time being constrained by it – of insects in enclosed spaces, of being lost in a vast wilderness or trapped in an alien industrial landscape, claustrophobic yet agoraphobic, a true meeting of opposites; “Graphorrhea” is a triumph.


— Catherine C.

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