Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

Here is the full album on Grooveshark, as usual. However, most of my first impressions were formed after seeing the performance here imbedded:

Calling to mind some sort of post-apocalypse, an industrial desert of black clouds and oil fires. The soundtrack you imagined as you read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

The singularity of the one man, leashed like a dog to his monstrous machine (a bass saxophone), cowed. Screaming endlessly, futily, his face red and purple, gasping, veins bursting, into this mess of brass and rust. The percussion of keys are ominous hoofbeats, or the turning of locks. The hoarse overtones squeal like the inside of a slaughterhouse. The droning fundamentals are distant foghorns, or the mourning of an unseen behemoth. A picture thus painted.

The album recalls the wastes imagined by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, specifically Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls. A weird nostalgia pervades it, as a remembrance of a world destroyed. Stetson’s inclusion of dry vocals by the likes of Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and Laurie Anderson add credibility to this comparison.

“Clothed in the Skin of the Dead” is, almost uniquely, entirely in a major key. It appears, initially, as a quick and happy melody reminiscent of Yann Tiersen’s Amelie soundtrack. It slowly reveals itself to be, instead, an uncontrolled madness in the face of fear, a Tarantella, an illness.

After an album of melancholy, alternating between passive and violent, defeated and frenetic, Stetson leaves us with “In Love and Justice”. Uniquely, there is no decay to be heard in this song, and no death. We hear nothing but a sunrise.

Due to lack of funds, I can only honestly give this album a “stream” rating. But it is a special album, finely constructed and of a rarely singular intent. Give it thought and time.

New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges, was released in 2011 on Constellation Records. This is Colin Stetson’s website. This is his bandcamp page.

1 Comment

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One response to “Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges

  1. It took a non-musician to point out to me that he is constantly circularly breathing. I’m so used to loop stations and electronic music that I never noticed.

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