Sunday, October 22, 2017
Methadrone - Better Living (Through Chemistry)
Craig Pillard is best known for his vocals on Incantation's seminal debut album, Onward To Golgotha, his work with Disma, and - according to some people - some controversial past statements on varying subjects. To me, he's the former two individuals. He's also the guy who complimented me on my jacket in the local bagel store several years back and so I currently have a positive view of the individual. Methadrone is his ambient/electronic project which he's been involved with for some time. Better Living (Through Chemistry) is the most recent release from the project but, having been pressed into it's oversized cardboard layout sleeve roughly eight years ago, it's definitely not a new album by any means.
While all the music was written and recorded by Pillard, the album is also heavily a work by Thierry Arnal, who supplies a large contingent of vocals, some instrumentation at times, and also put together the layout for the release. Collectively, the collaboration on this effort results in something which is much richer than an individual effort. Arnal's soothing and breathy vocals give the release a much lighter overall aesthetic, while the music drones on in a more melodramatic, soundscapely manner. Arnal's shoegaze influence is either causal or effectual: causal in that it lends the work it's airy frivolity at times, and effectual in that the music composed by Pillard perhaps requires such vocal attachment.
The material can be quite evocative at times, giving off uneasy and nebulous waves of sound that sooth, but form an inquisitive and meditative state of mind; the thematic content, fitting nicely with this, is echoed in Arnal's grey rippled cloud cover art, invoking flight as well as uncertainty. It would easy, however, for many to put this off into the category of post-rock or shoegaze, a genre which at the moment carries a negative denotation from the very people which would perhaps be interested in Pillard's other work. Methadrone would, then, get much more love from fans of Arnal's experimental shoegaze and post-rock projects.
It would be hard to choose one track that best summarizes the entire release in a nutshell. Were it not for the importance of Arnal's vocals in setting the overall tone of the release, "Buprenorphene" would be an easy pick, with it's endless slow ultra-low tuned bass rumbling beneath the other wise bright and spacious reverb laden twang of guitar and droning keys. The track oscillates both literally and figuratively as its genesis is bitter melody that turns sweet (as in the flavor profile and not the "yeah dude, totally, high-fivin' sweet") in the bridge/chorus selection.
Better Living (Through Chemistry), and Methadrone in general, are interesting asides in Pillard's storied career. The project offers insight into another side of the death metal icon's musical interests. The curiosity factor of the release readily gives way to the product here, a product that has more depth than the typical fare in this style.