CD, Umbruch Recordings, 2008
Dissamonix specializes in cut-up beats, bass-infused sedate glitchiness, and turbulent-to-musical guitar infusions. This German duo’s sound covers a wide range, from lurching beats and swirly guitar to calm spasms and spaced-out ambience. Often off-kilter and detuned, but routinely interesting, “Disharmonic Universe” stays true to its name as Dissamonix dispatches seven tracks of structured slow-motion mayhem, full of bass frequencies and tripped-out beats.
Bookended by vastly different intro/outro tracks “Git.I” and “Git.II,” the album swerves without warning following the former, segueing from its initial lightness and melodic, almost tropical, mood to the menacing pacing and wicked bass drops of “Propella.” Interspersed with chafing guitar stabs, this second track is a better indication of what is in store for the remainder of “Disharmonic Universe.” Drawing its cues from classic IDM, freaked-out dub and illbient soundscapes, the release attempts to take the expected splintered macrocosmic bits it derives from these influences and rearrange them according to unexpected methods. “Leavin the Fabric,” for instance, transforms its lurching beat and crumbling bass with a peppering of staccato string droplets that adds a layer of whimsical melody to an otherwise sinister place. Further, “Tronheim” is like a study in vibration, its extremely slow abstract cadence and otherwise minimalist leanings punctuated by claustrophobic creaks, tonal twinges and placid piano notes. Its layers seem to move at different speeds, a counterbalance to the open spaces, tempo permutations and rattling sticks of “Jedemebow.”
Equally content subverting minimal aesthetics and rock conventions (and on this note, album closer “Git.II” is at least superficially incongruous with the rest of it) alike, Dissamonix lays down its most commanding soundscape of “Disharmonic Universe” with “Boomgarden,” a multi-faceted journey of around fifteen minutes. Despite the length, this ambient piece is absorbing, keeping the listener guessing as to how it will develop. The rest of the album could take a lesson from this, despite the overall rather sinful appeal of other tracks’ abstract and well-executed illbient-themed backdrop. Stranded somewhere in the post-industrial, machine-instrumental, post-hip hop realm, “Disharmonic Universe” is an encouraging effort from Dissamonix, however lacking in long-term listenability it may be.
— Dutton Hauhart