October 24, 2007

CD Review: Steve Moore - The Henge

It wasn't all that long ago that I reacquainted myself with Zombi. The Lucio Fulci helmed classic was filled with dread as it methodically plods along, punctuated by moments of extreme gore. That gore was highlighted by the unforgettable eye impalement. Yes, Fulci did love his eye-violence, almost as much as he loved to give his films a snails pace. It was that pacing that separated the hardcore zombie freaks from the gorehounds. What does this have to do with anything? Well, The Henge was crafted by Steve Moore one half of the experimental instrumental duo Zombi. Itself, a band that took its name from the beloved zombie film and is crafting a career making instrumental soundscapes that sound as if they were taken out of an old school zombie film and then given a personalized sheen that will take you on an expansive journey. Steve Moore's The Henge is distinctly different from the Zombi music I have heard, yet clearly from the same mind that helped craft their singular sound.

Now I have to admit, my experience with Zombi is pretty limited as they have only just come onto my radar. However, I really like what I have heard and definitely plan on adding something from them to my collection. Until them I will just have to deal with Steve Moore's solo work to get me through. Fortunately, The Henge is more than up to the task. The album is definitely interesting.

Where to begin? The Henge is an experimental, progressive soundscape that is at odds with the music stylings that I am normally exposed to. Rather than blast beats, screaming guitar solos, blood curdling screams, and skull crushing riffs, this music is all about mood, ambience, and atmosphere. It is not about how many notes you can play, or how fast, or how melodically brutal you can get. The Henge is an album perfectly suited to headphone listening while sitting in the middle of a dark room. It is a meditative score for your synapse cinema theater.

The album is comprised of five tracks: "Introduction," "Infinite Resignation," "Henge/Ascension," "Dead Tide," and "Cepheid." Despite the breakdown, they are not really songs so much as parts that when brought together create the whole experience. Much like watching a film, you would not want to watch it without its dialogue or its soundtrack, you really don't to take these movements out of their context.

Listening to The Henge is not like listening to a rock album. It cannot be approached in the same terms as rock music. This is music that is not about the song, but about the big picture. It is not about putting showy musicianship on display or lobbying to curry the favor of popular opinion. The Henge is more akin to a film score, although in this case there is no actual film. This becomes the soundtrack of the mind. It is created almost entirely with synth and keyboards, save for a couple moments where distorted electric guitar ("The Henge/Ascension") and drums ("Infinite Resignation") enter the picture.

The sound reminds me of the synth based scores of 80's era horror films, with touches of progressive act Goblin, who have scored such films as Suspiria and the European cut of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. However, this music is not "retro" in any way, it is a throughly modern sound that has its inspirations from the land of horror from years past.

I have found that listening to this is most rewarding if the lights are out, your eyes are closed and your mind is blank. Especially when you are on the edge of sleep. I cannot quite explain it, but there is something about the expansive sound, the way it will drone on that is quite effective and downright eerie.

Bottomline. It isn't a great album, but it does have a lot to offer. Steve Moore has an interesting approach to creating music. It is very cinematic in nature, working more as one long work than as a collection of songs. I guarantee that unless you are a fan of Zombi, you are likely to have never heard anything quite like this.



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