Chord – Flora Album Review

Drone is a spectacularly odd musical genre, often far removed from actual music and yet both complex and fascinating for those who brave its charms. Mastered by James Plotkin (Khanate, Old) and released on the sublime Neurot Recordings (Neurosis, Isis, Bee and Flower) this is a dark-hearted and psychedelic trip into a world of over-driven guitars and molten feedback. It is not for the faint of heart.

Opening with a veritable tsunami of electronic hum and visceral guitar abuse, ‘Am7’ will convince you within its first five minutes whether minimalist noise is your thing or not. As someone raised on early Pink Floyd and Sonic Youth’s lengthy trip ‘The diamond sea’ I love music such as this and as the waves of sound collide and fracture it’s hard not to be absorbed further into Chord’s evil sonic architecture.

‘G(maj)b3’ throbs, rather than pours out of the speakers, a pulsing bass line that takes ages to emerge before taking on the characteristics of neo-classical compositions with a sustained drone and echoing effects. ‘E9’ offers an entirely different listening experience, sounding eerily like Seattle slow-core luminaries Low, with its slow-motion, children’s melody drifting through the ether offering a respite from the feedback howls of the previous two offerings. It’s a beautiful, if melancholy, track that highlights the ability of those involved and marks Chord out as something special.

Final track ‘Am’ makes up for the band’s lapse into melody by miring itself even further into waves of colossal feedback before introducing chugging guitars raging in a maelstrom of sonic hell. It’s an epic finale that lays waste to the previous three songs and elevates Chord to the celestial heights of band’s such as Neurosis and Isis without emulating them.

Chord are one of the bands who rather fall into the ‘you get it or you don’t’ category. Fans of bands such as the aforementioned Neurosis, Isis or Mogwai will undoubtedly be in raptures over this remarkable piece of work, while those who thrive on modern music’s limiting structures will dismiss it out of hand. This shouldn’t detract from the fact that Chord have created a masterpiece within the confines of their chosen genre, and one that can stand tall with esteemed names above. Tense, dynamic, achingly beautiful and catastrophically noisy, this is a heroic achievement from all concerned and well worth tracking down.

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