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Amen Tma – Insect Phonetics Research (LOM10, 2014)

Published October, 2014
by b.arctor

It took almost two years to finish this album and rumours circulating in the Bratislava scene regarding Amen Tma (which roughly translates as Amen Darkness) were hidden under a veil of mystery. Apart from a couple of live performances and singles put out quite a long time ago, Amen Tma remained silent working on their debut release entitled Insect Phonetics Research. Since one member of this project is well known for his perfectionism and endless reworks of his musical pieces, it had been difficult to predict the actual release date which could have been anywhere between 1 to 5 years, as it was the case with one of his other projects, also released on LOM label under the moniker Angakkut. When this release was finally completed the original band had been already disbanded for a long time. Insect Phonetics Research, nevertheless, has now materialised.

Generally, LOM’s releases always offer a different and more advanced listening experience than the rest of the Slovak labels and throughout its 3 years existence, fans have been supplied with a wide musical spectrum of genres, all the while spearheading the ‘weird music’ tag. IPR is definitely music for a more mature listener, with clear influence of the likes of Coil (actually, there is a remix by Coil collaborator Sion Orgon on the record) Cyclobe, reaching the levels of modern electroacoustic compositions. The band members ::.: and Acidmilk also participate in a local gamelan orchestra, although this was an indirect influence on Amen Tma (band members found it too easy to re-build gamelan tracks ).What we have here are precise sound compositions, masterfully arranged together with a menacing atmosphere and abstract grooves. It is unbelievable what kind of detailed soundcraft was applied to the tracks, every little detail here is painstakingly constructed into complex compositions, ranging from post-industrial wastelands to dubtechno flavored parts. Despite the purely electronic approach, the sounds on IPR are organic manifestations sometimes referring to insect species, all produced through modular synthesis and the band’s own low key instruments. Subtle beats with crazy temporal signatures are sometimes coupled with dark EBM-like basslines conjuring simple but strong melodies. The atmosphere of the album sometimes follow in an intensely dark psychedelic vein, other times it’s more about a feeling of tripping in a lair of the ant queen, the formula used for this album is really broad, yet comprehensive. My personal highlights were on tracks with vicious vocals and epic ritualistic moments predominating the second third of the album. IPR is a pure sonic adventure.

The remixes were done by established, yet criminally underrated figures of the local scene. To name a few, Slovakia’s best kept techno secret, Makkatu as well as the cult figures of the Urbsounds collective, Urbanfailure & RBNX, have reworked the original tracks into really stunning results. This album could well end up being the best experimental release of the year, not only in Slovakia, but in the entire Central European region. It is daring, complex, without being pretentiously academic, one of those releases that can be listened to for millions of times and you still will be able to find some precious little details, that you might have possibly missed when listening to IPR for the last time. Completely trend free and beyond all current musical hypes, Amen Tma have proved that their nigh-on-legendary status on the scene has been earned well.

This article was supported by the Intenda Foundation.