[dropcap style=”font-size:100px; color:#992211;”]L[/dropcap]o-fi recordings are a fickle musical mistress.
Emotively they are a direct connection between the music and the listener. Stripping back production means that performances can become more nuanced and feel truer, and with fewer takes they probably are. The pitfalls of lo-fi recordings are that the quality of the sound can become jarring and much more attention has to be paid to which instruments receive prominence in the mix. The clear and most present danger of Lo-fi recordings is that they show the true mettle of the music; tears, warts, sweat and all.
The Breathing House is a heavy progressive instrumental metal album that stands before you unalloyed and unashamed. Conventional wisdom would argue strongly for compression and some form of equalisation, but then conventional wisdom would also add lyrics, a dancebeat and a band name that wasn’t an obvious lie. As Davide Tiso, the single mind and body behind this intriguing and worthy release, explains:
[quote]The idea was inspired by the musical freedom of several one-man Norwegian projects at that time. When I was a teenager, I deeply admired the elitist attitudes and misanthropic sentiments of these Nordic acts.[/quote]
Quite so, pounding drums, complex melodic passage and heavy riffs are shown with a sort of raw democracy that can probably only exist in an instrumental band of one person. Similarly, fans of standard song structures might argue this album away as a talented wank project of a successful guitarist (Ephel Duath) left to his own narcissistic devices. A position not helped by statements such as:
[quote]This is not simply another project; this is my altar of illusions.[/quote]
But that isn’t it at all. This is quite simply a brilliant and timeless record. That the drums sound like they were recorded with the vocal mic duct taped to a bare light fitting in a bathroom squat, make it better, probably even a classic.
[quote]This band represents all those days playing like a fool in solitude, in a world of elitist creativity. I felt like a damned, misanthropic artist, but in reality I was, and still am, just a lonely guy in a room, with a guitar, a cable and an amp.[/quote]
And that is in the end how The Breathing House succeeds. Manuscripts Don’t Burn is an overly pretentious name steeped in meaninglessness and bordering on facile cliché while The Breathing House sums up the project perfectly; trapped solitude, a person caught inside themselves working with no hope of gain but for pure creative expression. It seems to me Davide Tiso is such a person, he’s best when he’s honest and the honesty of this record is breathtaking.
The posturing as the lord of illusion, drinking from pewter goblets and studying Crowelyesque summoning sigils is probably best left to Jack Black. David’s understanding of the inherent and self defeating contrivance of metal theatre and the painful reality of being a musician, much less a human, are totally revealed here in each and every second of each and every track. This album captures something rare for both progressive music and metal, gritty kitchen sink honesty and what makes this album work is that David is candid about not really knowing who the fuck he is.
If all you know are illusions how brave is it to let them all burn? Who the fuck knows but listening to someone seriously ask that question and properly go through with it makes for crucial and unmissable listening.
Amaranth Records (2010)
The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. – Aristotle