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Viranesir is a self described “dark metal” project that was initiated by Emir Toðrul, who is also the sole purveyor of the ritualistic black metal act Yayla. The project's debut release, “Fountain of Uncertainty”, is listed as the soundtrack to a film entitled “Drink From the Fountain of Uncertainty” and is supposedly told from the point of view of the film's fictional protagonist. Having never actually viewed this film, I'll just agree to stipulate what the project has stated. The first time I listened to this album, I had no idea what to think. The moods are so varied throughout that it's difficult to digest in one sitting, but it's a soundtrack, so it's only fitting that the tempo and timbre of the music would wax and wane much like a film plot.
A good portion of this album could best be described as ambient soundscapes. “Ovulation”, “Stark of Dark” and “Sight of Light” showcase very little in the way of traditional instrumentation. Oh, there are bass and drums and subtle guitar notes, but instead of the traditional instruments taking precedence, they take a back seat to synthesized strings, droning chants and maniacal wailing. Much like Yayla's albums, repetition is a key factor on “Fountain of Uncertainty”. “Ovulation” focuses on synthesized strings while a middling drum beat and bass line plod away. The drums and bass go in and out, from a slow paced march into fast paced double bass beats and steady pounding bass notes. It almost comes in waves, light to heavy, light to heavy, light to heavy. The whole time the synthesized strings stay true and to the front, threatening to lure you into a trance like void. Continuing the ambient trance induction, “Sight of Light” makes more use of key driven melodies only this time sans drumming and bass. This three minute track shows a dance between what could be the synthesized version of a cello doing battle with some light and airy keys to the rear. It's actually a good title for the song, because I envision it being during some huge realization during the film.
The remaining three tracks make more use of traditional instruments, but still continuously pull your mind into an otherworldly state. “Stark of Dark” focuses on a winding guitar pattern repeated for the entirety of the track, backed by what sounds like an out tune Hammond organ keeping a relatively creepy backdrop. The album's closer, “Fertilization”, shows a winding trem riff backed by slow, sludgy drumming and vocalizations that lie somewhere between a drudging moan and a haunting chant. Focusing on the trem riff, because it's in the front, sucks you right in and refuses to let go. The grip during this track is so tight that the subtle shift from sludgy drumming to fast paced double bass and back again is almost missed, unless, of course, you're focused.
“Ejaculation” is the album's centerpiece and by far the heaviest piece of music on the album, which showcases dissonant riffing coupled with fast paced double bass runs. The riffing varies between moderate trem lines and power chord strikes, but in an extremely trance inducing, droning kind of way. Rather than the surreal, almost alien environs that the other tracks take you to, “Ejaculation” seems to be the most rooted in the human psyche. There is a certain pulsing violence to the riffs and the drums: from a droning and sludgy in and out to a climax towards the middle of the track, where the drums fire on cylinders before gradually slowing down. The last third of the track slowly introduces tribal drumming and a burgeoning string section that eventually washes away the violence from your mind.
Taking the entire album in this view of humanness and sexuality, it's a very organic listen. Everything seems geared to build up and ease the listener into the sonic behemoth that is “Ejaculation”. The gentle opening on “Ovulation” and the haunting yet beautiful “Stark of Dark” serve as mere pathways to the dramatic violence and animalization during “Ejaculation”. The cleansing, casual slowdown at the end of that track just gears you for the realization of “Sight of Light” and the maniacal yet repetitive nature of “Fertilization”.
This is a fantastic album if you allow it enough time to completely sink in. The variety of moods and tempos keeps this interesting even while it drones along. The ritualistic nature of the instrumentation consistently threatens to suck you in and refuses to let you go. That being said, you need to be in the right frame of mind to listen to this: a quiet, darkness or a meditative place. Perhaps “Fountain of Uncertainty” would benefit from more traditional instrumentation or maybe even more to the point song structures, but I'm afraid that with too much tweaking the album would lose the subtle flow between violence and alien beauty. Check this if you’re a fan of trance-inducing music that has the ability to transport your subconscious to another plane of existence.
With its phallic cover image and cleverly relevant album title (don't we know it, males), and a track list that reads like a chronological overview of the reproductive cycle, Fountain of Uncertainty is quite a rare bird that I've received for the blog. In fact, what makes the album even more unusual is that it's the soundtrack to a short Turkish film, Drink from the Fountain of Uncertainty, which examines the life and relationships of a musician in the Adana-Mersin provincial area, and it's quite fascinating just how the lyrics for each of the pieces matches up to the themes of alienation, subcultural isolation and so forth while still having that duality of purpose to remain an abstraction for the sexual process hinted at. But even cooler, what surprised me was just how well the ambient textures and drudging, evil black metal guitar aesthetics actually function alongside the clips of the film that I've actually seen.
This isn't Emir Toğrul's first dance with this particular admixture of ingredients, having released several albums as Yayla, but Fountain of Uncertainty is the most visionary and compelling of his works that I've come across yet. An oft times chilling, oft times majestic affirmation of the qualities once manifest in the music of an artist like Burzum or Abruptum, only cast in a more urbane, post-everything mold. Distant and cacophonous, wailing vocals hover just at the edge of perception alongside the dreamy, crude synthesizers (think early M83) and rasping guitar lines, while the drum programming thunders just loud enough that you realize there is a beat mooring the music. However, there is quite a variation in the structure of these five pieces: "Stark of Dark", for example, is a roiling marriage of molten, fuzzed out bass tones with eerie layered synthesizers, while the album's 12+ minute centerpiece, "Ejaculation" is a more jarring, progressive piece with some staccato and flooded chords, and overall the most guitar-oriented, and the closer "Fertilization" makes the best use of the snarled, decaying black metal vocal style.
Whether vocally or instrumentally, though, the album is equally engaging, with a distant and murky mix that feels like its clamoring off the crumbling walls of an inner city, only to transcend the building-tops and escape off into a dingy night sky. The caveat is, while Emir exhibits a lot of control here on the shorter instrumental tunes ("Stark of Dark", "Sight of Light"), Fountain of Uncertainty is not an album that will sate anyone who seeks the norm. Architecture, percussion, verse/chorus conventions are at best, loosely defined, and the totality of the 30 minute experience plays far more like a dark ambient experimentation than a heavily metal infused monument. There is no shortage of sounds or textures, but Toğrul leaves plenty up to the imagination, especially when one is listening through this independent of the film. That said, I found that the music worked in both situations, as ancillary tension and warmth to the story, and as a background piece one can insert into the turmoils and victories of one's own existence.
It's not perfect, and I would actually not have minded a broader palette of sounds and instruments here, but it IS consistent in quality, and has enough conviction to really swallow the imagination while it lasts. A well rationed, well executed proof of its concept. Recommended if you're seeking out a more loose, surreal, urban alternative to Filosofem, Darkspace, or that intriguing, obscure Alpha Drone s/t out of Germany.