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Burzum - Filosofem
Review: Both evolving to simplicity and devolving to pop music, Burzum produces a troublingly obscure and romantic work. Ambient song structures, where a circular pattern gains variant details in each iteration, incorporate the narrative structures of earlier Burzum within these loops, but most notably in the epic atmospheric keyboard opus that, framed by mirror-image purely ambient guitar noise pieces, concludes the album.
The first three songs define the "Odinpop" format that makes this album a fan favorite: verse/chorus, with a long bridging deviation that weaves harmonic detail through a simple progression, creating an enveloping sound like a microcosmic version of Anton Bruckner's "sonic cathedral" approach in which aspects of harmony were added or subtracted to create a prismatic structure, or one in which repetition because non-repetitive because of the changed context into which repeated phrases were injected.
The simple percussive matrices that are its rhythms emphasize underlying simple phrase beats played in the cutting distortion of the guitar, the combination of percussion and duration revealing the components of each note and chord simultaneously. With a flexible strumming technique that smears a distorted flow of notes into chords and melodies, hypnotizing with sound in the simplest components of a song that builds a mood from the ambiguity of the melodic recombinance of the musical space that emerges. Strobing, pulsing, living music radiates from these simple, definitive riffs and the undulating strum that with speckled harmonics creates a sense of the indeterminate beneath.
Emotion comes from the rasping voice distorted to merge with the electronic organic mass of sound, rhythmically adept to insert the contortions of speech in anguished, hopeless ferocity. Like most pop, it is self-indulgent to the edge of being egodramatic, but in this case a contemplative mood takes over in a clarity of purpose distilled to simplicity. Not as cutting, destructive, and angry as earlier releases it seems more reflective and nihilistic, recognizing prison as an indifferent destiny in a world this repulsively stupid.