Himukalt


(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Conditions Of Acrimony (2016), 6/10
See One Dark Eye (2016), 6.5/10
Desperate Soil Grows Poor Flowers (2017), 5.5/10
Vulgar (2017), 5/10
Knife Through The Spine (2018), 6/10
Come October (2018), 5/10
Between My Teeth (2018), 6.5/10
Sex Worker (2019), 4.5/10
Sex Worker II (2020), 5/10
Septic (2020), 6/10
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Himukalt, the project of Nevada-based digital musician Ester Karkkainen, released a number of collages of musique concrete influenced by the noise of industrial music of the late 1970s (Throbbing Gristle, Illusion Of Safety, Whitehouse, etc).

Conditions Of Acrimony (Helen Scarsdale Agency, 2016) is devoted to industrial music that is ugly, dirty and macabre. Very little happens in Without Laughter (11:08) other than the uncomfortable feeling of having been completely removed from nature. The claustrophobic atmosphere is even stronger and darker in I Started (9:00), where one can sense the vibrations of machines mixed with ghostly voices that become a vortex of desperate cries. She specializes in gritty, jarring and unstable textures.

See One Dark Eye (Angst, 2016) begins with shock therapy, i.e. Weight, industrial power-noise that has an organic, living quality, the amplified sound of a swarm of flesh-eating insects attacking a carcass, but then prefers more sophisticated psychological chamber dramas, immersed in atmospheres of expressionistic chiaroscuro, with the voice reduced to beastly sounds. The absurdist loops of Repairing her Own Space exude a punk violence that finally explodes.

Desperate Soil Grows Poor Flowers (Sinnesloschen, 2017) is generally a more trivial implementation of the same ideas. However, Marie's Tape continues the human-machine conversation begun in I Started.

The skilled choice and sequencing of textures of her first recording is a distant memory on Vulgar (No Rent, 2017), which mostly sounds like unfinished experiments. The notably exception is the explosive machine music of Clockwork Biology. The CD reissue of 2020 also includes the rarity Not In This Body (originally included in a 2019 compilation) and especially the 16-minute Want You To See Me, subtitled "The Voyeur Tapes #15", a mini-symphony of abrasive drones over a thumping machine beat.

Knife Through The Spine (Malignant, 2018) is a more rabid beast. A punk-ish agony radiates from the screeching Nude On Beach I'm Afraid is the soundtrack of a macabre torture, Be Sure of Your Diagnosis is the soundtrack of a descent into madness, and the scorching nine-minute The American Redhead is the soundtrack of madness and desperation. For better or for worse, Himukalt never reaches the intensity of noise of her role models, and stopped short of the wall of noise. The human voice is used neither for singing nor for screaming, but simply as spoken voice.

The post-apocalyptic world of Come October (Found Remains, 2018) is summarized by the wave of distortions in Basically (Version) (6:56) and the monster factory sound in Again And Again (7:46). But No Longer Her Dominant (10:18) spends too much time toying with the human voice in a rather bland manner.

The wasteland of Between My Teeth (Several Minor Promises, 2018) is swept by the radioactive wind of Cataclysm, battered by the icy tornado of I No Longer Belong and buried in the lethal gas emissions of Not Proper. It is one of her most powerful recordings, or, at least, one that has relatively little filler to kill the momentum. The weakest element remains the treatment of the human voice.

Sex Worker (Total Black, 2019) is one of her less successful collections, mostly tedious and childish. Sex Worker II (Total Black, 2020), on the other hand, contains one of her most powerful threnodies: Panic Attack (10:43), a concentrate of catastrophe and tragedy. Alas between the two volumes, there is only about 15 minutes to salvage.

Septic (Malignant, 2020) is instead a better work, one of her psychological peaks. Cowards (6:14) is the audio equivalent of being lost in a maze of distorting mirrors. Septic (8:05) feels like the soundtrack of brain surgery, both inside and outside the skull. And The Gun In Her Mouth (9:12) is a ghostly and mysterious ceremony that turns deadly.

If she had released only one album with her best compositions, it would have been one the few masterpieces of industrial music.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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