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Double Feature: Sujo – Kahane + Diaspora

Kahane

Kahane

I have a great deal of humorous and humbling memories regarding Heathen Harvest that stretch back to my early days as a writer in 2006 — days from which I admittedly look back on in humiliation for the atrocious writing that readers and promotion-seekers had to sit through on my part as I developed my craft and generally grew as a human being from ignorance and immaturity into the man I am today.  Among some of these inspirational introductory experiences that propelled me forward as a person was witnessing the persistence of a little-known and then-anonymous Indiana-based musician whom, over time, left me equally perplexed and impressed every time a new release of his showed up — which, in those days, certainly seemed more often than not.  The artist in question was Sujo, and whether it was under other aliases including Olekranon, Bobcrane, Vopat or otherwise, the artist behind them all was one Ryan Huber, owner of the Inam Records imprint.  Since 2004, Huber’s projects have been — aside from the rare release by Public Guilt or 1000+1 TiLt — suffering in silence, largely being neglected by the drone world in general despite the artistry of his releases and the uniqueness of the music.  Yet, as the years wore on, not only did his output not cease, but it didn’t even slow down, nor did the strength of his creations weaken over time.

Now in 2013, I’m getting the chance to experience Sujo again for the first time in three years, and what have I found?  Well, firstly there is, of course, a trademark style Inam Records release of Disapora, complete with a color-printed, translucent psychedelic sleeve and nearly illegible black-on-navy information card.  This is no surprise and is certainly something I’d expected to pop up eventually.  But what was unexpected was the arrival of something that has been long-overdue for Sujo:  a quality vinyl LP release by a respected label in Philadelphia’s Fedora Corpse Recordings, complete with a tarnished gold-colored heavy-grade record for quality, full-color post-card with artwork by Erik Waterkotte, and DIY hand-stamped sleeves and labels to stay true to the artist’s own roots, though that is a trademark of Fedora Corpse as well.  Receiving this LP has to have marked a special moment for Huber — the moment when those years of labor through Inam Records finally paid off and recognition was finally deservedly given for his own craft.

This new LP displays — in full form — Huber’s ability to flow seamlessly amongst subgenres that dominate the post-industrial landscape.  Opening with ethereal, melodic guitar, there is no hint at the approaching abrasiveness as a distant swell of sound quickly becomes a heavy dose of industrialized harsh noise wall à la Flesh Coffin while the track continues on into a new chapter to showcase a deep-audio dark ambient approach that is reminiscent of the quality artists found on Loki Foundation, most notably Bad Sector.  “Achille” enters a pulsating industrial world that is in itself new, while still retaining the remnants of static-noise that dominate most of Sujo’s tracks.  The track features a shoegazing, doom-tempo rhythmic industrial hybrid that is saturated with a primitive, tribal atmosphere that is much-influenced by the included postcard artwork where forests meet futuristic cities in some sort of bizarre distorted flux in reality and time. The title track “Kahane” continues this ascent upwards from the tribal middle-ground into a pristine glacial guitar piece that is backed by a pummeling drum machine rhythm and more static noise in the foreground.

Diaspora

Diaspora

All of these qualities converge immediately on Side B where “Entebbe” lurks with an all-consuming full-mix wall of sound.  Though noisy, “Entebbe” in no way feels destructive in any way, instead opting for a sound that is both complete and incomplete — creating a full shifting tone while enforcing a depressive aura — something hollowed, void, and yet somehow evolving as is hinted at by the brief albeit completely unusual utilization of an acoustic guitar at the back end of the track.  The only negative aspect of the release that I can find comes with the closer “Frei”, where a seemingly infinite 16th-note rhythm constantly chops up the background and is itself textured by a bit of experimental noise which somehow forced out the emotion found on the previous tracks.  Of course, there is always the view that this was meant.  After all, “Frei” is German for “Free”, perhaps hinting at a cleansing and purification through the closure of this LP.

Fedora Corpse has hinted at something spiritually profound with Kahane within their one-sheet, though what is hidden within the album thematically remains veiled by purposeful vagueness — anyone familiar with Huber’s music will know immediately of his short-spokenness that is all too evident through his constant usage of one-word titles.  There is, almost always, as little explanation as possible, allowing both for the intimate reasons for each release’s existence to remain private and for each release to take on a meaning that is dictated by each listener’s own human experience.  That said, and it should be made clear that these are only my observations, there appears to be potential for some political undercurrents with “Kahane”, specifically in relation to Israel.  “Entebbe”, for example, was an Israeli counter-terrorism hostage-rescue mission in the Ugandan city of the same name where one Israeli commando was killed along with three (later four) hostages and 45 Ugandan soldiers.  There is also the issue of the album title, Kahane, from which I can only derive an interest towards ultra-nationalist Israeli Rabbi Meir Kahane.  I have no idea what any of these influences are trying to say, if they’re even really there at all and not just a huge coincidence, but that seems unlikely, especially considering the thematic inspiration behind the new EP, Diaspora — or literally the dispersion of a people from their ancestral homeland, and any educated person should know the related implications from that.

Diaspora isn’t entirely different from the work found on Kahane, though it generally lacks the rhythmic qualities of the LP.  Rather, this EP is more of a crushing, doom-laden, shoegazing work with industrial noise overtones.  Songs can range anywhere from the blissful reverb drench of My Bloody Valentine to the Lovecraftian dark percussive electronics of Maculatum.  What is present here that wasn’t present before are deep expanses of straight drones with minimal texturing.  As the colors of the sleeve indicate, much of the music on Disapora seems a bit more psych influenced — at least it’s certainly not as congruent with tracks that are less tied together by aural themes.  Overall, the EP is easily more subdued and methodical if not meditative in many aspects.

Normally, after a career as prolific as Huber’s, I’d have to begin to wonder how much more quality creative output this man can have within him.  Surely it can’t be infinite with the amount of music that he composes annually.  However, it never seems to stop, and with recognition finally knocking on his door, he has all the more reason to push onwards into new directions.  Besides, it’s not like he’s sitting around and waiting for labels to come his way — if it’s ready, Inam Records will have it available.

Track List:

Kahane
A1) Evocate
A2) Achille
A3) Kahane
B1) Entebbe
B2) Frei

Rating: 4.25/5
Label: Fedora Corpse Recordings (US) / FCR1210 / 12″ LP
Experimental / Ethereal / Industrial Ambient

Diaspora
01) Six Days
02) Sayan
03) Famir
04) Diaspora
05) Threat
06) Tamil
07) Landing

Rating: 3.75/5
Written by: Sage
Label: Inam Records (US) / Inam Records 099 / DIY CD-R
Experimental / Ethereal / Drone