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Tetragrammaton

Elegy for Native Tongues

(Subvalent; US: 12 Oct 2008; UK: Unavailable)

Tetragrammaton is the quadriliteral name for God. It is also the name of the Japanese band behind Elegy for Native Tongues, a sprawling two-disc psychedelic/noise/free-jazz album. The band is part of the same musical universe as Acid Mothers Temple and Borbetomagus. Although this ambitious outing doesn’t offer as wide a spectrum of psychedelic textures as AMT touchstone Absolutely Freak Out (Zap Your Mind!!) or as unhinged a force as Snuff Jazz, band members Nobunaga Ken, Cal Lyall, and TOMO do form an exciting ensemble involving drums, electronics, guitar, hurdy-gurdy, and saxophone.


As with almost all music of this sort, the listener only fully appreciates the craft of the songs through extended and repeated attention. The chanting sweet spot on “The Ghosts Won’t Starve But We Will Perish” kicks in only after the tenth minute, which is the same point at which tinny distortion gives way to a barely-there oscillating melody in “Kohelet Revisited”. Such hidden pleasures are buried everywhere throughout disc one (the studio recordings) and disc two (a 2007 live set). This is a breathtaking listen. Just don’t expect any hooks.

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