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Arrington de Dionyso - I See Beyond the Black Sun

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Artist: Arrington de Dionyso

Album: I See Beyond the Black Sun

Label: K

Review date: Feb. 11, 2009

On the second solo album from the ostensible leader of the shambolic, art/punk/groove combo Old Time Relijun, Arrington de Dionyso delivers a disquieting soliloquy. Shored on unthinkably deep timbres and resonating drones, I See Beyond the Black Sun features everything from sputtering clarinet to Shruti box to the most absurdly abrasive throat singing ever to cross my eardrums. Identifiable sounds are hastily introduced and then sustained for ridiculous expanses of time, as further elements are laid atop the foundation. A remarkable amount of importance is ascribed to every note – one might think they know all there is to know about a gravely deployed minor chord, but when it’s prolonged for upwards of 16 minutes (see “AION Intuition and Science”), new intricacies are revealed as the chatter amongst the instruments grows louder and more complex. Aided by the grinding vocals – which there are a lot of, though not a single moment of identifiably spoken or sung language – and an inordinate amount of chamber reverb, the notes are stripped of their outer dressings and become something else entirely. Identifying that something would be an exercise in futility, but whatever one might call it, “sinister” should perhaps be counted as its primary characteristic. Suffice it to say, if a stranger arrived at your door and announced himself in Dionyso’s dark and otherworldly manner, any rational human would slide the deadbolt into place and go hide in the back of some distant closet.

Mercifully, the dissonance eventually narrows into focus with “Pluto in Capricorn,” in which a pounding drumbeat (courtesy of Old Time Relijun’s Germaine Baca) makes its solitary appearance on the album. Although still light years away from being accessible, this one tangible quality provides a few fleeting moments of direction in a cacophony that might otherwise seem wholly impenetrable. The song arrives at the conclusion of the record, which upends common notions of how a “gateway track” can ease a listener into an album previously dismissed for being too abnormal or idiosyncratic. (See “Space Prophet Dogon,” the Sun City Girls song that everyone at work can agree on!) In Dionyso’s case, only those who’ve managed to endure 30-plus minutes of decidedly more difficult listening are granted this key to his kingdom. Although it may not motivate the skeptics to step all the way through his doorway, it will certainly inspire the most lionhearted among them to try.

By Mike Lupica

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