CD, Tympanik Audio, 2008
To give a summary: for those, for expediency’s sake, who would prefer reading a preface – Broken Fabiola’s “Severed” is an affectively stimulating album. Though if you listen to it while paying too close attention to its various parts, something just seems lacking.
Maybe as a detour, I think it might be necessary to comment on the existence of the side project. I was never quite clear on why musicians have side projects. Sometimes collaborative work might require a different name, and sometimes the music is just a radical break with the direction of another project. But other times it just seems like an unnecessary partition of a project for the sake of audience reception. I’m willing to grant the fact that at some point an idea manifested in the work may seem a radical break in mood/texture. But sometimes, I think that a larger discontinuity within the work would make albums more interesting.
For those not in the know, Broken Fabiola is Karloz M.’s (Manufactura) more IDM/soundscape-ish outgrowth. While Manufactura typically focuses more on concrete distorted beats, Broken Fabiola dwells in the more atmospheric pieces that appear in the manifold of Manufactura albums. When I first encountered Broken Fabiola, the bits and pieces I heard appealed to me much more than Manufactura. There seems to always be something so damn pleasing in hearing warm sounds with a large envelope release – this is the elusive element in IDM that provides for the fantasy of emotional depth. However, what I wanted was for the Manufactura sound to be blurred with Broken Fabiola, to blur the harsh beats with more entrancing sounds and production. In my opinion, just that was achieved within the last Manufactura album, which leaves me a bit perplexed as to what to do with “Severed”.
On the first (inattentive) listen, nothing on the album really stuck out. The main exception that caught my ear was the remix of “Japanese Call Girl.” I listened to the track on repeat several times, and the seeming noticeable difference was that the drum track took a much larger part in the fore, creating a highly pleasing listening effect. On further listening and closer scrutiny, “Severed” makes a very innovative use of vocal/lyrical samples that flow incredibly well with the music (especially in tracks such “Departure” and “Silvers Bind”). Instead of obscenely standing out in their naked indexicality, voice samples flow brilliantly, intra-dependently with movements of the music.
On the downside, this album doesn’t really bring anything that innovative forward – its seamless production and compulsive use of warm/pleasing sounds make it all blur together. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just seems like it would work much better if inserted in a Manufactura album. When listening to “Severed”, I get a bit confused as to what track I’m listening to, and it all mutates into a single mixture.
The best possible listening situation for this album is when you’re miserably failing at half-drunkenly trying to fall asleep at 5 a.m. on a Monday morning, the sun is coming up and you want to fall asleep but just can’t seem to seal the deal – in that case this album really brings the mood together. I would recommend listening to it on either a pair of fancy headphones to exaggerate the stereo effect, or possibly at a loud volume over speakers to make the finer points of the album more audible. While individually the tracks don’t really stand out, listened to as a whole the album has a strong affective grip – it delves deep into meditations on the anxieties of everyday life.
— Lemmy S.