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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.