CD, emd.pl records, 2007
According to Daniel Menche, “Animality” is his final entirely percussion-based recording. Packaged in an intriguing black cardboard sleeve with arresting white and gold graphics that, once unfolded, suspends the compact disc precariously before your eyes, “Animality” itself unfolds in an epic torrent of thoroughly organic machine-noise. That might sound like a contradiction, but one listen through the ceaseless clacking, shuddering, throbbing and twanging of this sprawling construction – comprised of Native American drum sounds – will invoke images of vast engines driven by primal forces more of the earth than of humankind.
Menche utilizes not only the clean and unadulterated hits from drums made of such materials as elk or moose skins, but also residue noise picked up from the drums themselves. To quote the artist, “All of the possible sounds I could create with these drums I used.” The result is a ceaseless shifting, morphing and blending of percussive rhythm and membranophonic vibration that would border on oppressive, were it not for its undeniable imaginative quality. It seems the only thing Menche requires of his listener is complete submission to the crafted and deliberate aural intensity of “Animality.”
The fifty-two minute journey begins with deep, reverberating drumbeats that seem to stutter and trip over their own slow-blossoming syncopations – a mysterious, albeit sinister, premonition of the deluge that will soon engulf “Animality.” Soon a variety of low, mid and high elements coalesce from this initial seed to form a primitive, rhizomic labyrinth of limitless movement. Like an undulating tapestry, layers upon layers of polyrhythmic drumming and programming loops adhere and disintegrate, imbuing Menche’s work with a powerful physical quality. With each concussion, shivering tone, clicking palpitation or superbly resonant thwack of the animal-skin drums, “Animality” extends its penetrating cascade of hypnotic percussion into the very heart of savage spirituality. This is indeed what blood sounds like.
— Dutton Hauhart