December 16th, 2010
It seems over time, even the most diverse of genres eventually will reach a point of creative stagnation, and while dedicated fans will always find the good in many releases thereafter, skeptics such as myself will perpetually long for change. This wouldn’t be such a problem if innovation was as easy as fusing two things together. Unfortunately many acts will in turn capitalize on this false notion and try to mix water and oil by taking two or more genres of music that alone are perfectly acceptable but do not share complimentary characteristics that make such fusion acceptable. While at first the general public might praise these as something new, (such as the abysmal rap rock styles that dominated the late 90s and early millennium) eventually the popularity wanes as people realize it is too gimmicky and stale. Instead of progress we suffer listening to musical regress.
Through all this I am left with a depressive black metal band called “netra.” The name derives from an old Breton word loosely translating too “emptiness” and this one man project from France offers us a musical styling that fits somewhere between the latter two options from those three forms of progression I’ve mentioned. Intelligently and organically this artist takes a primary influence from doom and black metal and incorporates influences from gothic rock, various jazz genres, blues rock, and downtempo electronica genres such as trip-hop. While other acts would fail miserably to incorporate such fusions in a natural, meaningful and mature way and simply take the quick way out by cashing in on a cheap gimmick, netra differentiates himself by putting a lot of thought and effort into creating a truly unique and groundbreaking creation, that while experimental in nature developed a distinct sound which is key to critical acclaim in any artistic endeavor. With the debut full length Mélancolie Urbaine seven depressive and meditative tracks await listeners with almost forty two minutes of progressive music experience.
The follow up tune, “Outside… Alone” keeps the gothic inspiration though heavily incorporates 12/8 blues patterns to offer the most saddening track of the release. This one is also the longest as it clocks in over nine minutes. While the bass drives repetitiously the listener is greeted to a solid blues rock guitar lead, which keeps things interesting. As this passage fades the bass changes and guitar feedback drives in as a tough spoken word from The Wackness. “Never trust anyone who doesn’t smoke pot and listen to Bob Dylan.” The voice builds up in exasperation as the guitars transition gradually from mere distorted chords to melodic passages. “Stop fucking around…” the voice goes into a panic, and then fades out to the sounds of seagulls by the ocean as the guitars while still distorted mellow out dramatically. Trip-hop singing then comes in as the music slows to a halt just momentarily. The music continues without field recordings and results in a much more anxious sorrow to slowly bring us to the electronic closing of this mature work.
“Through the Fear” is next up and brings the trip-hop rhythms back in. This time with Tricky inspired bass and piano rhythms met with a similar distorted timbre in the background as track two. We are met with chill-out style singing and eventually downtempo trance textures that cacophonously (in an appropriate sense) fuse with more black metal chords and suicidal cries. The singing doesn’t leave at this time either. Listeners upon leaving this passage will find a variation of the opening theme and more somber expression of yearning eventually heading back to the blackened doom metal inspired refrain. We are met with an ambient bridge of more spoken word which pivots into blues rock and more of this Tricky inspired trip-hop piano to bring us to the refrain one final time. We end the track with the phrase from the Johnny Depp film, The Brave, “watching a painful death can be a great inspiration for those who, who are not dying, so that they can see how, brave we can be when it’s time to go.”