Saturday, 13 July 2013

Una Bestia Incontrolable - Observant Com el Món es Destrueix

"Dusk and the benediction of shadow were coming back, but not for the Erstwhile, who had become too old. When the sun went away, they creaked and cracked, crawling on the forest floor and hanging sloth-like from trees. There was no cave or simple dwelling for them. They did not have the pleasures of men, or the ability to make and change what was around them. They had each forgotten their purpose and the details of their design, how they had come to roam the ancient wood. But they all had longing, and it was attached to the actions of humans." - B.J Catling, The Voorh

Una Bestia Incontrolable are a Catalan-language hardcore band that featuring members of sweet fucking Spanish bands such as Glam, Atentado and Destino Final. Their new album Observant Com el Món es Destrueix (Watching As The World Is Destroyed) starts the same way their 2012 demo 10-11-12 finished, with the peaceful balm of birds twittering, with a slight buzz in the distance. (Both this album and the demo are available for free on their website. You can buy the album from La Vida Es Un Mus in the UK, Not Normal Tapes in the US) Then we get the sound of wood being chopped, this steady slow rural percussion as wobbling bass swells over the top like a threat. A threat realised as the guitar crackles and then and the drums clamber into life. Big chopping riffs like those earlier axe strokes, falling down with repetitive force, like looped animations of smokestacks tumbling. Lyricless, scenesetting, Mar de Lava (Sea of Lava) is a fucking great opener. Every relisten those woodland sounds, the birdsong just getting sweeter as the promise of the riff lingers. This is an always worth-it opener trick and it works perfectly here, like the classic crash-ins on Fly On the Ships/Cry of the Sheeps on Paintbox's Trip, Trance and Travelling or the post-advice wallbuster that throws you writhing into Sweat Loaf on Locust Abortion Technician by the Butthole Surfers. The first song is called Mar De Lava (Sea of Lava), the cover of the album a peaceful volcano watching over workers in the field, the back cover those people engulfed in flame as the Krakatoan beast is unleashed, watching as the world is destroyed from the art on down, even if its only a small world, for some it is all.

El Cant Dels Ocells (The Singing of Birds) is what follows this mighty wordless stomp, a hardcore punk rumbling with that same relentless energy but sped-up, that gritty dirt-rubbed guitar tone pushing forwards, that weird monotony, not one of boredom, but just one of purpose. This song starts with Hank Wood city crudeness "An urban jungle, a rat's nest. Is where you live, a hole in the middle of the world." before quickly making its escape, tearing out of town with that pounding rhythm, however this is not some trite pastoral yearning, like a cock from Blur who reaches 40 and then fucks off to the counties to make cheese and stare contemplatively at chickens or something, nature, when reached, is unforgiving and cruel in a way that the city's malevolent snatchings can only dream about. "The noise of the river is a daily punishment, the singing of birds a memory of freedom." Like the movie Vagabond (Sans Toit Ni Loi or Without Roof Nor Law, originally) where that idea of freedom and escape, just leads to a tighter shorter path. One with shoes shredding and no respite and spiky rocks all over it.

This album is pretty consistent in its tone but not in its speed, pace changes up, going from El Cant Dels Ocells escape-to-void energy to steady sod flattening buzztrudge of No Hi Ha Esperanca or La Primera Foguera, all held together by the guitar's scratch and scrabble, hardcore with the added muddy noise-rock clatter of something like Pissed Jeans or Kim Phuc or Karp.

La Primera Foguera (The First Bonfire) is about the birth of fire, but that spark painted not as some larcenous Promethean grandeur but as the mechanics of caveman toil, echoing through. "We are the descendants of the survivors who made the first bonfires with sticks and stones" it howls."The signal that indicates we are alive is the first bonfire". These notions of something wheedling its way down through the years, something odd and maybe a bit beyond ken stuck in our hunter-gatherer bones is something the album focuses on a lot but the back half of the album becomes even tighter in its natural focus, the songs pretty much all evoking the forest and some hidden malignant power within it. From The Evil Dead to a million sardonic twistings of the Teddy Bears' Picnic's opening line.

There are screams bursting through on the tear of Vulnerable, getting louder, closer, wilder, the music getting faster, running futilely away from this crazed report. Its only lyrics "Nobody comes for me and an unknown force takes me deep into the forest and makes me feel defenseless and vulnerable" There is Runes, Decadencia's guitar noise a frantic pinnedrat squeak, twitching over the slabs of bass. "Sand in stomach. Blood in Hands. Lead in looks. Ruins, decadence." Vaixell Oblidats (Forgotten Ships) is a calmer intonation, a more measured terror, living with this. The wordless Veri A La Sang (Venom of Blood) squeaks and pops and the album closes with A Las Seves Mans (Into His Hands), another treefell hardcore stomper of abject terror and Berstuk desire lines. "I don't know what I'm scared of but I'll know it soon."

I generally tend to associate noise-rock and hardcore, this albums twin seedlings, with a more urban setting, the only band that immediately springs to mind so concerned with vegetation are So Il and their earthy goofy gardencore, taking the DIY vegan vegetable patch and smashing it into big chunks of crustcore screaming odes to working the land: "my hand are the only thing i need to pull these weeds!/fuck yr shovels, fuck yr trowels! ...stealing gardening books from powell's." so it's interesting to see this mechanical unnatural power worked in service of nature's simple unforgivingness.

This is a genuine comment I once read on and saved for posterity because it just the best: "You're the one who's a child if you think that all this infrastructure is necessary (not to mention healthy or humane) to take care of the sick, the hungry, the young, or the old. Have you ever even seen a picture of the woods? If you have, you've probably seen the best hospital, grocery store, and playground EVER." I don't know if that's serious, with the internet Poe's Law lurks sniggering in every comment section but that is one of the stupidest things that I have ever read (and let's assume it's true, because a bunch anarcho-primitivists are also down with the unabomber so it's unlikely they're really put together that well up there). There's a brick-sized Tom Clancy novel where the eco-terrorists who've constructed a massive conspiracy to return the world to a humanless eden (a conspiracy involving ex-Baader Meinhof operatives, superviruses, kidnapped homeless people in New York, a multinational pharmaceutical company and the 2000 Sydney Olympics) get given their wish and sent into the woods to fend for themselves. SPOILERS: they don't make it out.

Romanticise the call of the birds and the simplicity of woodland life all you want, test yourself against nature and nature will usually win, on a longer timeframe it always will, the real creepy-crawlies and stumbling snarling (incontrolable) beasts of woods will always catch up to you. You just ain't built for that shit, who is? We want the comfort of a carpark at the top of hill, we want the warmth of the bonfire and not have to stray too far from it, we walk through the woods in the dappled light in the day, bombing hills on mountainboards, having picnics but once the night comes down each friendly grotto comes alive with blue-black shadows and movements in the corner of your eye get ominous, the susurrus of woodsound in the dark has big warring worrying things behind it.

Forest spirits to take you away and eat your bones, like the memory blackening oppressive force of B.J. Catling's The Voorh. Pernicious smirking forest knifepucks, or a deadfaced stalker, unseen, always pacing behind you with the rustle of brushes, the whip and crack of branches and twigs. An endless evil in the woods, deeper than the roots of the biggest fuck-off trees. Fuck the communion with nature, fuck the Growth of the Soil, don't trust the earth. This album is the sound of cold streams, mini-eschatons, phobias of the dark that stretch back further than childhood, stretch back right into some deeper human dread, primal terror, shadowy places that have existed for a long-ass time. It's an album of fire, winds and flamewhips. Echoes. Shit. Crepitations. Threat. Pounding rocks, nasty fucknoise built into looming boulders and packed into mud since the coalescence of the earth. Violence until now. Let us in. Let us out. We were right to be afraid.

"What's funny about myths is that they start someplace, and end up bringing the whole thing back with them: You don't want your kids to go out in the woods at night, for example, because they'll come home dead or eaten or injured. So you tell them a story about the woods at night, that basically is meant to make them afraid of the woods at night. But on the inside of your head, where you actually live, the woods at night already mean something else scary: your woods, your night. Gods thrive on belief, but that's not where they come from. So the story takes on a power of its own -- something Out There gets all the blame, all the credit -- and before you know it you're avoiding the woods at night not because of injury or attack, but so you don't piss off the woods." - Jacob Clifton

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