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Today marks the release date of ANNWN, the new album from ex-local avant-metal guitarist Mick Barr (here, in the form of Ocrilim). I’m listening to it right now and, though drum-less and possessing of more bottom end, it doesn’t seem like a drastic departure from Ov, Mick Barr’s last record with the guitar-and-drums duo Orthrelm. Here’s my review of that release:
It is perhaps strange to say that Orthrelm’s new emphasis on repetition is a much-needed change. After all, the D.C. duo has earned quite a reputation amongst noise-hipster types for the non-recurring nature of its trebly, squiggly riffage. Guitarist Mick Barr and drummer Josh Blair’s initial, 2001-era performances were no doubt technically impressive feats, kind of like staring at the construction of a really long, really tall bridge. But, hey, a bridge takes you someplace eventually and, to be honest, Orthrelm’s all-solo-all-the-time schtick seemed to be going nowhere fast.
That’s why it was something of a relief to witness OV-type material on Orthrelm’s tour with the Dillinger Escape Plan and the Locust last winter. At least one…writer has asserted that there’s no way that these guys could be playing all of OV’s minimalist metal, that Barr and Blair must have recorded a few minutes of music and looped it into a whole album. That may be true. However, the new disc’s 45-minute song—or something just like it—has been witnessed live and is, thus, very possible, even if it seems inhuman. Sound-wise, OV is much like Orthrelm’s earlier catalog—that is, trebly and squiggly. The difference can be found in the presentation of licks, which get looped for several minutes at a time, yielding structure that’s closer to old Terry Riley or Steve Reich records than anything going on in underground metal. Repetitive? Absolutely. Boring? Never.
Here’s another piece from yours truly about Orthrelm.
And, just to be fair and balanced, as they like to say on Fox, here’s Michael J. West‘s less-than-enthusiastic review of Barr’s “jerk-off session” on John Zorn‘s Tzadik label.
I link, you decide.