Sunday, December 12, 2021

Blood Incantation at Substation and Wolves in the Throne Room at The Crocodile: Jan 8 & 11

The month of January sees two shows in town at Substation and the newly reopened The Crocodile stradling the
heavier end of sounds issuing from the mutating offshoots of black metal. The related global scene's ongoing and burgeoning development have encompassed melodicism and atmospheres lifted from shoegaze and spacerock, eruptions of heavy psych rock, industrial drumming, synth exploration and electronic atmospheres, and pure experimental noise. The expansiveness of this sound is further detailed in Brad Sanders' essential overview, "Untrue And International: Living in a Post-Black Metal World". Beyond this primer, deeper reading and curation from this spectrum can be found in the past decade of excellent selections in The Quietus' Columnus Metallicus column, covering releases dominantly sourced from labels like, Hydrahead, Ipecac, Deathwish, 20 Buck Spin, Sargent House, Profound Lore, Season of Mist, Roadburn, Flenser, Neurot and Relapse. First among these two nights is Blood Incantation performing from their The Quietus 2019 Albums of the Year charting, "Hidden History Of The Human Race". This assembly of tracks took their already explorational sound into truly progressive, inventive death metal with variegated song structures and a haunting intergalactic bent to the lyrical themes. Technical and occasionally delirious in its precision, the performances are precise without being flashy, and occasionally ornate in their psychedelia without the encumbrances of gaudiness. Tangents are taken into doom and meditative synth workouts, which then return to death metal riffs and unexpected structural shifts, all executed with assurance. The second of the shows features the Northwest's own brand of doom and folk-inflected psychedelia from Wolves in the Throne Room, a further refinement of their embracing fusion of these sounds can be heard on their newest album "Primordial Arcana" for Relapse. As detailed in the interview with The Quietus, "Beyond the Darkness: An Interview With Wolves in the Throne Room", their seventh studio album disregards distinctions between their previous metal and ambient characteristics, finding a newly organic, free-flowing hybrid in the process. Breaking down the dichotomy between these two sounds, the album creates an often melodious interplay that washes with an uplifting grace rarely heard in music of this darkness and weight.

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Ryusuke Hamaguchi's "Drive My Car" at SIFF Cinema: Dec 10 - 23 & Northwest Film Forum: Jan 5 - 9

In just the last year, Ryusuke Hamaguchi has delivered a set of two new films, exhibiting an even higher nuance and complexity than that previously seen in his already notable body of work. Hamaguchi is part of a new 21st century corpus of filmmakers from Japan, this "New Wave of Japanese Filmmakers" dominates much of Taste of Cinema's "The 25 Best Japanese Movies of The 2010s (So Far)", with Hamaguchi's 5-hour domestic tranquility stunner, "Happy Hour", ranking highly. The first of this year's films took home the best screenplay award at Cannes for it's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's short story of the same name published in the "Men Without Women" anthology. As Peter Bradshaw's review in The Guardian states, this "Mysterious Murakami Tale of Erotic and Creative Secrets" has a through-line of related concerns also explored in “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy”. More than a "Triptych of Light-Touch Philosophy", "Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy" is a deceptively unassuming movie, which watches as a mildly subversive observation on the goings-on between men and women, and at its core is an exploration of, "What We Talk About". By this, Manohla Dargis means to say that the film maps a geometry of desire expressed in sometimes casual and cruel intimacies that are divulged through three extended segments. As men and women circle one another, they exchange confessions and accusations, through a cascade of words, gestures, and glances. It is through these effusive dialogues that they slowly come to unveil the nature of their central yearnings, fears, and intentions. Taking a major prize amidst the abundance on offer at, "Berlin Film Festival 2021: The Most Impressive Selection in Years", this would be the first of the year's awards for Hamaguchi, with more to come in the following months. The second of these films premiered at Cannes to outstanding reviews, foremost for its deftness in navigating the complexities of “Haruki Murakami and the Challenge of Adapting His Tales for Film” and bringing "The Mystery of Murakami" to the screen. Manohla Dargis also reviews this entry from Hamaguchi, praising it as a quiet masterpiece, in which the director utilizes the rather slight story by Murakami to consider grief, love, work and the soul sustaining, life-shaping power of art. There will be two regional opportunities to experience this award-winning turn of "A Director Taking Your Heart for a Spin", first of which at SIFF Cinema in December, and the Northwest Film Forum the following month.