The Metamorphosis EP (review)
… Kafkaesque is a term that gets thrown around pretty loosely these days in relation to almost anything conceivable, but in this case it’s totally warranted! Gluid’s The Metamorphosis EP was, in it’s original incarnation (larval, perhaps?) a soundtrack to De Gedaanteverwisseling, a multimedia event by Noortje Licht that was based on Kafka’s original novel The Metamorphosis – which is to date and unbelievably the only work of Kafka’s I’ve read, though like many others, I will talk at length of / expound upon the brilliance of the author regardless of that sad fact. Now in it’s full-fledged adult state, modified to be listenable as a stand-alone album, this work feels more like a butterfly! Yes, I’m jumping a few evolutionary progressions here in saying so, cutting from one specie to another at will, but is this not so much a leap as from human to roach? I think not. Let’s… now talk about the music, before things get too weird up here in the introduction.
‘Prologue’ begins with beautiful, deep harmonic pads… into this field of sound, very bright electronic noises ascend, sparkling almost, maintaining intransigence against the background. These sounds then begin to wind down as we head into the next track…
… ‘The Metamorphosis’ continues the mutational feel with some bizarre electro-animal calls, maybe? There’s a shuffling modulated bit of white noise, some semi-vocal howling, lots of wind. Into this, a very pretty bell! There are more strange noises filling your head, like visions of sugarplums or maybe the dead? Strings come in with gradual tension, there’s almost a Danny Elfman quality to this and it’s very professional sounding so far! I’m totally amazed and thrilled to be listening to it. Toward the end I hear something that sounds between a scream and a car tire coming to a sudden halt. Then really dramatic ambient textures and what might be synth toms with lots of decay.
Then it’s ‘Knock Knock’, which begins with a highly resonant bell-tone drone and what might be a very, very subtle backward rhythm. There’s a tribal feel emerging, some bells and very reverb-laden clicks/pops. Ghostly synth leads of a theremin-like nature come in for awhile, lots of tremolo. I hear a violin, the melodies are very whimsical and dark. There’s the creaking of a door, more of those beautiful ghoulish theremin things, a pizzicato string! I’m in love. The bell melody that comes in next is wonderful, just the right touch of strangeness, it really makes you feel as though you have just realized you’ve metamorphosed into something alien, are experiencing a morbid fascination with new forms. The progressions of the song are very expert, lovely and seamless. There’s a synth bass that sounds really nice, just touches of it here and there, as well as flute/feedback tones.
A scratching, rhythmatic sound is shuffling around at the beginning of ‘Don’t Take My Furniture Away!’, as well as some lovely bells and yelping sounds. I begin to wonder if something isn’t trying to come through my walls? Hopefully not, though I’m prepared for the worst sitting in a circle of salt with just a computer and headphones. The music has a very ghastly vibe, like someone’s trying to jump-start a car in the middle of an isolated, foggy street set upon by a looming darkness. The noises begin to arrange themselves into an avantgarde rhythm just before disappearing completely, to be replaced by howling, bell tones, creaky gates in need of oil. A door opens… stabs of broken piano, low growling, chains rattling… g-g-ghosts! I love this track!
‘Faulty Narcosis’ features very low wisps of bell and then sudden cello/synth bass and rhythmatic bits of noises and sfx. Theremins like ufos descend upon us… and then an orchestral section too, very beautiful. It drifts away from us gradually and is followed by a solitary cello which leads us into…
… the last track, ‘Finally She’s Playing / Epilogue’, which continues with cello at first. There are strange sounds, like the flapping of steel wings, or the chattering of keys on a typewriter. The cello is accompanied by violin, then… viola, maybe? I hear three distinct timbres, playing in unison. Soon comes a fourth, pizzicato strings, which work together with a shaker to create a sort of phasing rhythm to the music. Everything eventually seems to filter off, a low drum sound keeping sixteenth time.
All in all, it’s hard being a giant roach. The neighbors are always threatening to call pest control if I don’t mow my lawn, and it’s difficult to get my legs into pants. This album is a bright point, though… it gave me a very squishy feeling on the inside, in the best way imaginable. It has that soundtrack quality to it, very professional and evoking a dualistic feeling both of morbid estrangement from humanity and disappointment.