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Something's not right... - 58%

psychoticnicholai, August 13th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1993, Cassette, Independent

This is something that feels as though it shouldn't exist in this world. It goes for a sound that's as dark as can be by being as raw as it can be. In taking the lo-fi approach of early French black metal to its extreme, we see what Moëvöt is all about; creating a torturous and terrifying atmosphere with very minimal musical elements. This is one of the formative tapes for black ambient, and it is as strange and dark as one might expect. The made-up language, obscure identity of the musician, and 1920's production standards do a lot to make this mysterious and cryptic.

Even with all of the strange darkness going around, the music itself is a fairly mixed bag and rather simple. Now, simplicity can work well when going for atmosphere in the single-minded pursuit of a particular emotion (in this case, fear or melancholy). It does work well here, even if the composition is sloppy and simple, this works since it's background music and mood is all that matters with stuff like this. The air of mystery that Moëvöt projects is only amplified by the ancient-sounding production. This sounds like something that was recorded by evil spirits back in the 1920's in some forgotten, backwater part of France where passers-through tend to go missing. With all of that said, this is no multilayered sonic experience and just exists as an example of pain and loathing put to tape.

The musical element of Moëvöt is diverse in the tracks, but simple in the approach for all of them. Repetition is common as is customary in ambient music, and this is used to really drive in the sparse and bleak outlook on here. This does get interrupted by the black metal shrieks on "Notre Perte" where he just sounds constipated and unconvincing, and on "In einem Friedhof - Errance" where he just makes the simple synth melody sound silly alongside his gargling. Thankfully, the shrieks only appear on two songs. Where the choirs show up, the album picks up, acquiring a chilling spiritual angle and a bit of welcome melody that makes the atmosphere of this easier to absorb. The acoustic guitars on some of these tracks varies from black metal practice tremolos on track 2 which don't do much to excite, or they become terrifying melodic declines like on track 5, that really draws you in and does its best to get under your skin. The synthesizers tend to be a bit too halloweeny for my tastes, but could be used to better effect with better composition. Sometimes this is too raw for its own good and just sounds simple and goofy, but that simplicity and grittiness is also integral to the mood that Abgzvoryathre is emitting into this world.

Concerning this particular tape, I have mixed feelings. Everything that goes into the aesthetic of this tape is done well, but sometimes it gets overdone. The choirs and demon speeches? Good. The black metal shrieks? Not good. This is also something that uses its sparseness and use of minor scales to great effect. The sheer ancientness of the production gives this a chilling, cryptic aura and the minimal structure plays into just how unnerving this can sound at the right times. Though, this also leads to some bits of tedium and goofiness that just feel like they're pushing too hard. This isn't easily listenable, but it's not boring or bad either. It's quite interesting and has a good atmosphere of dread and isolation. This is for those creepy weirdos who are afraid of sunlight and can't stand to even look at people. Personally, I preferred the atmosphere on their second tape, which was a little more sinister and ethereal.