Hot on the heels of October 2014's release of Solefald's 'Norrønasongen. Kosmopolis Nord', where they exercised a more halcyon and mellow take on their avant-garde propensity, just a few weeks later and we now have the Norwegian duo back to full-on musical delirium with its heavier, more diverse companion, 'World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud'. As indicated by the album's title, this is metal flavoured with world music influences. It's as simple as that. Well, actually not so. To brand Solefald's music as "simple" would be the same as likening the narrative of a David Lynch or Alejandro Jodorowsky movie to that of a paradigmatically predictable, unambiguous Disney film. For like the finest work of both Lynch and Jodorowsky, Solefald's music - and 'World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud' is no exception - is a cognitively stimulating experience as much as it is an affectively moving one.
Stylistic heterogeneity and compositional diversity are, once again, at the heart of this new Solefald work. And, for a band who've persistently prided themselves upon their genuinely progressive, sonically challenging output, it's with a degree of surprise that I must declare 'World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud' as a somewhat musically accessible album. At least within the context of their own avant-garde aesthetic. This can in no small way be construed as music with wide, commercial appeal, although it's more instantly engaging than any of their previous albums. Cornelius and Lazare's innovatory streak is still a profoundly rampant one, it's just that the songs on 'World Metal. Kosmopolis Sud' have a little more instant appeal, rather than instant challenge. Maybe I've been listening to Solefald and other wildly experimental music for too long and have simply become immune to its aurally erratic qualities, but this, at least to my ears in 2015, is the band at their most accessible.
Accessibility can also be a corollary of familiarity, of course, and the occasional passage of music does stir the mind to contemplate, "where have I heard that before?" As a longtime listener and admirer of Solefald, since 1999's 'Neonism', traces of their own idioms are ever present, of course, although the opening bars of '2011, or a Knight of the Fail', which become a repeated motif within the song, is ever so reminiscent of the chorus to David Bowie's 'The Pretty Things are Going to Hell' - the phrasing and melodic lines of the vocals are all too similar, and the underlying music bears more than a passing resemblance. However, I'll put it down to subconscious pastiche, as we're generally talking originality and wildly creative flair throughout this album, of which metal is but one constituent part of its stylistically varied essence.
The production's also cogently apposite and fits the general aesthetic of each and every passage of music; from the sporadicity of clean and precise, digitally evoked moments of electronica, to the general, rawer analogue feel of much of the album's playing time. It's almost as if the production itself has been weighted with as much significance as the performances; it's evidently so well thought through and executed. In short, this might be called 'World Metal' but I don't think the world will ever catch up with Solefald. In 2015, they remain firmly at the forefront of the iconoclastically intriguing, progressive pack.
WORLD METAL. KOSMOPOLIS SUD
Review by Mark Holmes
2nd Feb 2015
1) World Metal with Black Edges
2) The Germanic Entity
3) Bububu Bad Beuys
4) Future Universal Histories
5) Le Soleil
6) 2011, or a Knight of the Fail
7) String the Bow of Sorrow
8) Oslo Melancholy
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...this might be called 'World Metal' but I don't think the world will ever catch up with Solefald. In 2015, they remain firmly at the forefront of the iconoclastically intriguing, progressive pack."