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Chaos Echoes’s “Mouvement” and the Future of Death Metal

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When Ornette Coleman’s “double jazz quartet” released Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation in 1961, the idea of avant-garde jazz was delicately tread: a scattered piano solo over a subdued combo performance, the saxophone squealing but for an instant before returning to a speedy bop. Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation‘s individual, fully improvised free jazz performances first appear to be totally maddening, but ultimately rests on context to find its center. Nothing in jazz focused on a totally improvised center before Coleman’s vision was realized, and so this ecstatic vision is suddenly redefined from vast and chaotic to fully focused and wholly centered.

In discussing a death metal album, the concept of free jazz is ostensibly the furthest from topical. At least, on the surface. Looking back to 2015, Chaos Echoes’s Transient redefined the way many people looked at death metal. Somehow finding a way to fuse avant-garde jazz, free improvisation, pitch dark ambiance, and death metal, these French postmodernists forged an unlikely path to the future, and yet looking back offers a disjointed vision, or at least a color wheel-like structure.

Though masterful, Transient‘s many parts were simply that: parts. Parts which were interconnected, but ultimately found themselves mirroring Frankenstein’s horrific creation. Much like the story’s monster, Transient‘s individual pieces were visibly apparent: the death metal section, the free improvisation section, and so on. That isn’t to say the album itself isn’t forward-thinking or unique, as it certainly is both, but Chaos Echoes’s first album functions more like a thesis statement: here are the styles we both know and have mastered, and our future career will demonstrate how they all fit together as a cohesive unit.

Mouvement finds itself functioning as the meat and evidence of Chaos Echoes’s actual conceit. A much shorter affair compared to its predecessor, the trio of Stefan Thanneur and brothers Kalevi and Ilmar Uibo find themselves practicing the art of brevity — if Transient was a demonstration of their variety, Mouvement is theory in practice. There is no need for lengthy stylistic meditations or extraordinary brutality, quite the contrary: Mouvement is an exercise in fusion, simultaneity. Lengthy death metal sections slowly crumble and transform into Tibetan holy music, pseudo-free improvisation maintains a heavier metal spirit, the album itself finds itself reveling in multiple identities. Looking back to Coleman, Mouvement‘s bizarre nature seems to be “too much” on the future, but offers a new context to its predecessors, a new center for all the experimenting which led up to it. Maybe it’s a tad presumptuous to say this now, but Mouvement‘s focused, creative nature could very well be the shape of death metal to come.

Mouvement is out Friday, February 16th, on Nuclear War Now! Productions.

Follow Chaos Echoes on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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