Velvet Cacoon

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Dextronaut (2003), 6/10
Genevieve (2004), 6.5/10
Atropine (2009), 4.5/10
P Aa Opal Poere Pr.33 (2009), 5/10

Portland's Velvet Cacoon, a male and female duo, debuted with the savage black-metal tour de force of Dextronaut (Full Moon Productions, 2003). Infinite Plateau introduced their manic blastbeats, the most grotesque growl of the genre and a thick layer of feverish fuzz distortion. The breakneck speed of A Year of Decembers is the ultimate black-metal frenzy: no subtlety at all. However, there is a lot more to it than a sheer wall of noise. Nest of Hate is interrupted by church bells and resumes on a majestic note. The album's standout is Perched on a Neverending Peak, in which intense guitar hissing bordering on shoegazing contrasts with the slow-waltzing tempo. Eventually one realizes that the piece is actually modulating a stately melody. The relentless tension of Setting Off the Twilights ends up in a church-like chamber piece for piano, cello and choir.
The album was reissued with an additional disc containing three lengthy pieces of ambient music: Velorum (29:07), Ambient Planet (20:24), Nighttime Ice Horizon (22:30).

Velvet Cacoon unleashed a claustrophonic orchestral squall of monster fuzz drones on Genevieve (Southern Lord, 2004). The instrumental overture, 1, sets the brooding tone of the album, and it introduces its unnerving psychological element when the music stops for a few seconds replaced by a hiss and a rumble. A sense of doom permeates P.S. Nautical, with the blastbeats being undermined by slow drones and whispered vocals. Something similar takes place in Fauna & Flora, whose gallop is submerged by wasp-like guitar buzz and lugubrious vocals. The relentless onslaught of Avalon Polo is a morbid blend of desperate and stately tones. The peak of pathos is perhaps Laudanum, thanks to its expressionist grandeur and majestic musical agony. The eight-minute Genevieve summarizes all these points in one dense swirling nightmare that alternates with solemn guitar chords simulating funereal church bells. The ambient side of their art materializes in the 17-minute horror piece Bete Noir for gritty drones, slowly evolving into a metallic sideral drone.

Northsuite (Southern Lord, 2005) collects their first two (tedious) demos, Music For Falling Buildings and Red Steeples. Their first demo How the Last Day Came and Stayed then Faded into Simulated Rain was a carbon copy of an album by Korouva (Miranda Lehman).

Dispensing with the "metal" in black metal, the double-disc Atropine (Full Moon, 2009) delivered two hours of ambient music. Floating drones create a tragic atmosphere in the nine-minute Funeral Noir. Booming subliminal organisms crawled in the twelve-minute Graveside Sonnet, eventually releasing a crackling noise. The same tiny glitches are the only events to disturb the glacial calm of the 37-minute Dreaming In The Hemlock Patch: 37 minutes of deep-water pulses. The glitches and the floating drones move a bit in the 13-minute Nightvines, but the real movement takes place in the 28-minute Nocturnal Carriage, when the sound grows to become a booming bass drone mixed with om-like voices. The final word is the bleak drone of the 13-minute Autumn Burial Victoria. Alas, too little happens in these colossal pieces.

P Aa Opal Poere Pr.33 (Starlight Temple Society, 2009) was the counterpart to the ambient album: an eruption of scorching metal madness.

After Velvet Cacoon disbanded in shame (for having appropriated other people's music), the founders started Clair Cassis, a black-metal project that limited its songs to a few minutes and focused on the melodic hooks. By comparison with the gloomy, tormented atmospheres of Velvet Cacoon, the mini-album Clair Cassis (Starlight Temple Society, 2010) and the EPs Clair Cassis (Khrysanthoney, 2011) and Luxury Absolute (Khrysanthoney, 2011) were almost pop.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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