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This beginning of an era and one of the most unique music projects of the twenty-first century is a very strong start to kick off a unique career. It's still far from being perfect but should nevertheless especially please to fans of gothic and industrial music.
Senmuth seems pretty much inspired by industrial bands such as Ministry but also Kovenant. On the other side, this record reminds me of the avant-garde style of the Neue Deutsche Todeskunst with bands such as Das Ich or Lacrimosa. As a third comparison, I would cite bands that unite the avant-garde side and the gothic or industrial influences to a mind-blowing potpourri such as Adversus or also UneXpect.
That means that this record is indeed as the title suggest discordant and heavy to digest. The album sounds coherent but not yet perfectly thought out. The album works as a whole and has already an almost conceptual approach so that I couldn't really point out any particular song. The album is definitely less profound, surprising and inspiring than many of Senmuth's later albums but he executed this kind of music already perfectly on his second release. If you happen to like the general style of this record you should definitely try out Izoteri-Ka which is a highlight of this kind of music. I would also suggest you though to try out the more commercial and diversified Со(знание)бытия or on the other hand the more aggressive and metal influenced RXG-242-11.
This album here is in the end more like an essay or a courageous first try. It contains a high degree of creativity and it’s maybe simply too high to fully enjoy this hectically done record. It's without a doubt pretty interesting but doesn't yet represent the world and vision of Senmuth.
Thinking there would be no better place to dive into a discography, this debut album 'Cognitive Discord,' is my first complete experience with the one-man musical project Senmuth. Taking a multitude of different music styles underneath his belt (including industrial, metal, and ethnic, among others,) dozens upon dozens of releases have spawned from this Moscow, Russia based act. While later works by Senmuth would focus more on the ambient, subtle side of his music, this debut rests firmly within the wild realm of industrial metal.
The first chapter of an admittedly daunting discography, 'Cognitive Discord' shows alot of promise, and serves to excite me for all of the other music the man has produced. Coming across as a very upbeat and energetic, beat-driven form of metal I've been scarcely exposed to, my first impression upon listening to the opening moments of the album was that of a 'crazy robot dance party.' Taking the concept of 'dance metal' popularized by Teutonic rockers Rammstein and adding some flair of his own, the music is an even combination of electronica and metal qualities, with an added touch of oriental folk to give the music an even more unique and exotic vibe.
Being an industrial metal album first and foremost, it should not come as a surprise to hear that the music is very dense; layers of sound give a very chaotic atmosphere, to levels of mixed success. While it might seem too overwhelming and noisy to some, I realized a few listens in that the music (instrumentally) bears a striking resemblence to some of the heavier music that metal icon Devin Townsend has done in the past. With this in mind, most of the instrumental work is very pleasant, exotic and well-executed.
Perhaps the greatest flaw to this album is the vocal work. While the female guest vocal appearance by a woman credited as 'Annie Red Hat' in the second track is relatively enjoyable, the eternally distorted vocal work of Senmuth himself passes me as being a bit too nasal, although for all intents and purposes, it fits into the Eurodance vibe of the music perfectly. While I have no doubts that the vocal work will improve over the course of albums, the singing here puts a whiny tinge on the otherwise strong music that at times, makes it indistinguishable from the legions of disposable dance-industrial groups coming out of Russia lately.
When it comes down to it however, Senmuth's debut has done to me, exactly what a debut should do; provoke me to check out more music from the artist. While I have never been enthusiastic about industrial music, Senmuth is indeed a talented multi-instrumentalist, and while 'Cognitive Discord' is undoubtedly a flawed work, it reveals worlds of potential for this talented artist. However, for a listener hoping to get a more progressive and atmospheric side out of Senmuth, it may be best to overlook this album and go for a latter release instead.
One of my favorite collections of visual art works is Luis Royo’s “Three Millennium”. Its depictions of ruined technology, post-apocalyptic decay, superimposed upon the pristine and arousing imagery of the female figure in a wide array of manifestations, inspire both deep and shallow thoughts, depending mostly upon the audience. In much the same way, this early offering by the obscure Russian industrial/gothic outfit Senmuth conjures up images of future tumult, guided by the depravity of society, through the medium of beautiful melodies surrounded by the sonic byproducts of the synthetic.
Although this sort of music may not pummel the ears with a hard edged guitar sound, the amount of Ambient sound packed into each song could like blow your speakers as quickly as any Thrash metal album. It has a strong amount of Metal based ideas, some of them even crossing over into the speed metal realm. This is particularly noticeable on “We Lose…” and “…From Emptiness”, both of which walk a thin line between techno music straight from one of “The Matrix” movies and something that might have been heard on an Anthrax or early Slayer album. It takes a little effort to hear the latter underneath all of the synthesizers, but it’s definitely there.
The overall guitar presence on here is fairly prominent throughout, and even establishes itself on slower and more atmospheric works. Even on songs such as “Tearing The Last Strings”, which are loaded with overpowering spoken sections and varying keyboard themes, those processed yet raunchy power chords and melodic lead sections still manage to push through and make themselves heard. “Regress” takes the prize for the weirdest of all the songs on here with all the pitch bending going on between the keyboards, but at the same time these really brief yet highly intriguing lead passages jump in, sometimes bordering on shredding in a manner comparable to Jennifer Batten’s style of soloing.
Perhaps the aspect of this album that makes it so appealing is that despite all of the different things going on simultaneously, it stays relatively consistent and puts as much metal in as it does Industrial and ambient material. I think there is actually a brief section on “Irreversibility” where we’re treated to a synthesized blast beat, albeit one of those slower ones that you’d hear on an ambient black metal release. They also throw in an operatic Soprano slot on the opening song “The Deformed Knowledge”, which along with a beautiful piano drone gives a strong gothic overtone to something that would otherwise be a distorted beast of guitar fuzz and popping drum beats.
Of Senmuth’s extended catalog, this is among the more accessible albums for someone who is not inclined towards ambient and avant-garde music. It has fairly discernable structures and despite the thickly distorted and synthetic layering, is pretty easy on the ears. This is probably part of the reason why it was able to get some label support while most of the band’s other works have remained largely underground. The language barrier might be a little bit of an obstacle for any non-Russian speakers, but if you can tolerate all of those band from Finland employing their language into their music every now and then, this isn’t all that much harder to get into.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on November 28, 2008.