Mind of God is the project of New Orleans native Jason Pizzolato, who got his start on the wild edge of the metal scene in the 90s, but who has more recently moved from showering audiences with meat and maggots (with his former band Apostasy) to a more refined electronic sound. Ominous is the third Mind of God album in the last three years, but is the first one I’ve managed to lay ears on. And may I say, at the risk of a review spoiler, I’m awfully glad that I did.
The music here is built on slow and syncopated beats, not the frenetic samples you get in jungle music, but sinuous and sexy—the sort of rhythms that invite you to move, snakelike, in time with them. There’s a sparseness to the music that’s uncommon. Rather than layering elements and effects to create a thick, full wall, each sound that appears in a track is noticeable and serves a specific purpose. The listener is acutely aware when something new enters and how it changes what’s been built before. Tracks are built around trance-inducing loops that are modified by the strange and often dissonant sonic travelers that drift in and out over the course of the tracks (all of which clock in at around the six to eight-minute mark). There’s a judicious use of vocal samples, which injects a human element without seeming gimmicky. The end result is something that sounds full, but not muddy or confusing.
The obvious comparison here is to Scorn (who the artist cites, along with Throbbing Gristle, Coil, SPK, and others, as an influence). Both rely on the same sort of rhythmic structure and build from there in a fashion not unlike that of dub studio experimentation, without concern for imposing a traditional song structure on the proceedings. I’d also liken the music in terms of its framework, if not actual sounds, to Muslimgauze, another artist who had an exquisite sense of how to use the tools of the studio as an additional instrument, playing with effects and exploring the range of mutated sound.
As groovy as much of it is, Ominous is at least as good—sometimes better—on headphones as it is at club volume (okay, I’m making an assumption there, for I have sadly not found a club that plays this music). Pizzolato has made phenomenal use of earth-shaking lows, piercing highs, and the placement of sounds, so that the music has a kind of three-dimensional character. Wherever you choose to play it, it’s worthy of a good-quality sound system. I’d go so far as to say that a lesser sound will make the music seem a lot less dynamic than it is, leaving you with the impression that it’s unfinished. It’s only when you can truly hear everything it has to offer that you can appreciate it for all that it is.
Despite its foreboding title and track names like ‘Krokodil Synthesis Factory’ (one of my personal favourites and one that does remind me a little of what would happen if you applied a thick varnish of funkiness to some early SPK tracks) and ‘Technological Overdose Vomit Transfer’, the overall sound of Ominous isn’t tremendously dark. At least, it’s not dark by the standards of a lot of other things that I listen to. Play it for your Great Aunt Rosemary and she might have a different perspective. It feels nicely chilled out, with enough of a shadow over it to keep it well clear of the monotonous and insipid well into which so much IDM falls.
Mind of God seems to be Mr. Pizzolato’s sole music project right now, so let’s hope he continues to create and evolve in this vein. It can only bring good things.
01) Net Whore Identification Procedure
02) Junk Injektion
03) Technological Overdose Vomit Transfer
04) Seizure Cyanide Hospital
05) Brain-Eating Amoeba
06) Krokodil Synthesis Faktory