Hyrrokkin – Pristine Origin (2013)

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The other-worldly experimental post hardcore outfit called Hyrrokkin finally delivers on a full length debut two years after the Astrionics EP came out. Pristine Origin follows up on the five track appetizer with a seven track full course meal of numbers that are even crunchier and abrasive than before.

It’s evident right off from “Eightfold Way” that guitarist Edward Ricart, bassist Paul Larkowski and drummer Brett Nagafuchi are delivering the big, dense noise. But listen just beneath that Black Flag surface and you’ll quickly find that there’s structure and method that holds up this and other tunes, just not in the chorus-verse-chorus or head-solo-head way. Some of the diabolically mathematical movement of harmony drive tracks such as “Hydronyms” and “Astrionics,” but the stuttering rhythms on “Anacoluthon” work particularly well with Ricart’s urgent chord patterns, and Larkowski’s fat bass virtually does double duty as rhythm guitar.

Two songs from the EP, “HAARP” and “Cosmic Influencer,” also appear on the long player, but instead of merely carrying over the earlier recordings, Hyrrokkin re-recorded these songs with Ricart and Larkowski switching roles. Unexpected horns provide additional excitement to “HAARP,” courtesy of free jazzers Roy Campbell, Jr. (trumpet), Daniel Carter (soprano sax) and the great Steve Swell (trombone). Ricart’s motoring bass climbs alongside the Frankenstein grouping of Swell, Campbell and Carter, with Larkowski on guitar. The horns disappear when a groove is located and the song becomes essentially close teamwork between the two guitarists (and Nagafuchi), with the brass returning for the galloping final segment.

“Cosmic Influencer” is arranged much the same way as it was before but this time it sports a fuzzier sound, with Ricart’s bass creating ostinatos and other harmonic underpinnings out front with Larkowski. An electronic drone adds to the dark, foreboding ambience of the song, always threatening to blow it up.

Swell, Carter and Campbell return for the final track, “Tamariz,” a much more spacious tune with ample running room for the horn players, who improvise all around each other amidst lots of stop-time and lumbering notes.

Pristine Origin was originally set to go out about a year and a half ago but the delay hadn’t diminished the impact; Pristine Origin brings the complexity of jazz to metal without diluting its forcefulness.

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Pristine Origin dropped on October 1, by Sick Room Records.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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