Various Artists – Epicurean Escapism MC / DVDr The Epicurean / Silken Tofu 2012
Not a typical compilation in the traditional sense, here we have a multi-media document that was issued as a companion release for a live festival of the same name (held in Berlin on 7th of July 2012). This release features all artists who performed live, including: IRM, Krank, Anemone Tube, Jarl, Human Larvae, as well as further contributions from Dissecting Table and Martin Bladh (who both presented video screenings at the festival). Although festival compilations can often be somewhat uninspired, ‘Epicurean Escapism’ avoids this pitfall in term of both the artistic contributions and the packaging and presentation (silver bubble wrap pocket sleeve and pro-duplicated tape).
Krank (an old resurrected project of John Murphy) is first up, presenting a dose of ritual industrial sounds – multi-tracked vocals and myriad on tonal textures are the order the day here. Anemone Tube follow with a remixed track from the excellent ‘Dream Landscape’ album, presenting a multi-dimensional dark ambient track constructed field recording and droning synth textures – great stuff as expected. The next track is a devastating live attack from IRM, here presenting the title track from their last album ‘Order4’. Built on a base of heavy droning distortion and crumbling static Martin Bladh’s vocals suitably unhinged, sounding if he is pushing himself to an absolute point of collapse. Jarl rounds out the first side of the tape and present an animated yet meditative ambient track consisting of a multitude of clinical throbs and pulsing elements, and a looped bass line that is quite reminiscent of early Deutsch Nepal.
Flipping over to side two Human Larvae present two short tracks in quick succession. The first is a layered dark ambient / industrial track with an ominous droning atmosphere, whilst the second drives a more static riddled power electronics tone including obligatory yelled/ distorted vocals. As my first introduction to Human Larvae both are solid and enjoyable tracks in their given styles. Dissecting Table follows whose track is the longest of the compilation, but from my perspective is the weakest (…but to qualify this view I have never been a huge fan). The track presented here is freeform noisy industrial, with cascading waves of distortion and heavy dose of digital clatter, rounded out with aggressive processed vocals in the dying minutes. Anemone Tube return to conclude the music part of the release with a calm and melancholic track, built on a dour synth line and ‘composed’ field recording elements – again an excellent contribution.
In addition to the music, a short art film by Martin Bladh is presented entitled ‘Pig and Tomboy’. Experimental filmmaking in its styling, the short video juxtaposes visual cuts ups of various disturbing scenes being acted out (…Martin Bladh and an accomplice in a pig mask). These images play out seemingly in response to an audio collage of interview dialogue which has been collated and contributed by Peter Sotos (…dealing with a girl’s decent into drug use, prostitution and subsequent death by unknown means). Interestingly in some sections the footage is filmed via the reflection of a mirror, where the tripod camera that has captured the scene is clearly visible in frame, which raises questions of whether the audience is a mere passive viewer, or perhaps an active voyeur just out of frame. The video certainly warrants more analysis and dissection than can be provided here, but it is uncompromisingly executed by Martin Bladh, which should be no surprise at this point given his artistic endeavours to date.
From packing to the multiple formats of contributed material, it provides ‘Epicurean Escapism’ with a clear point of difference from the more ‘standard’ approach to a festival oriented compilation. Yes this is ludicrously limited at 100 copies, but worthy of investigation all the same.