Each Tuesday, FADER editor Matthew Schnipper highlights an underappreciated recent release he thinks we need to know about. This week it’s Orthrelm's Iorxhscimtor. Buy Orthrelm's OV and read something after the jump
Look at how the drummer is so steady. You could balance books on his head, like teaching a debutante how walk like a proper woman. It’s all in his wrists. Sometimes he moves his body, but that’s just to get to a place where he can move his wrists. It’s not robotic; there’s too much real life. But it’s not human, either. Maybe he is an Avatar. I’ve yet to see the movie.
The first time I saw Orthrelm was in a white painted basement gallery, late 2001, around the time this record came out. I didn't understand why the floors were white. It was also my first time in a gallery.
Everyone was older than me at the show, though probably younger than I am now. I saw a photo of myself from that time period the other day. I looked like a mess. But I looked happy. This was before I was old enough to understand shame, a realization that came way too late.
The video above is from 2006, four and a half to five years after Iorxhscimtor was released. It’s around the time Orthrelm released OV, a 45 minute single “song.” It is essentially braided bits of small repetitions, like an earthworm re-growing itself. But if it grew back in different colors, some shades apart but others from other spectrums entirely, all textured and designed from the same house, but adorned with various, glorious colors.
Literally, some Orthrelm songs sound like cars nearly crashing and the subsequent mixed complex feelings, bizarre ritual drumming, drills puncturing difficult surfaces, the sound of lions being born. There is so much inherent joy and power, as though they have figured out how to harness light. Orthrelm was a band, a duo of guitar and drums, but it could have been anything. Maybe they were inventors or maybe politicians, co-presidents or revolutionary leaders rising up together from different coasts. Though the sound may be aggressive, mathematical, what it relays is absolute understanding. This is the sound of unconditional love. This is the air that escapees when your fontanelle closes, a smooth and final rendering.
That first time I saw Othrelm I had heard them. It wasn’t a surprise that two nerds played their instruments. But what I was overwhelmed with was their decision. Recorded, it’s just the representation of the idea. Live it’s the tenderization of that idea, the slow cook, the ingestion, the savoring. I threw devil horns at that show, something I have never done. It was involuntary, like the doctors knock above the knee to kick the leg. It wasn’t the most appropriate response, but something had to move.
The guitarist plays in a metal band now, who sound more like this 2001 CD than 2006 Orthrelm, though they have screaming. Orthrelm never had vocals. There’s nothing to say.
I have in the past said that I wish that music did not exist. I don’t wish that. I wish talking didn’t exist. Barring that, I wish that I could make it so that when people said things I didn’t like, I could laser beam Orthrelm into their mouths and they would jar their jaws to say things and only their songs would come out and they’d stand there agape like silly fish not knowing if they were catching or emitting such basic precision, but either way too awed to clam up and make it stop.