By: Jake Murray

Thee Maldoror Kollective | facebook | bandcamp |

Released on November 3, 2014 via Argonauta Records

Be warned, dear reader, for herein lies weirdness. As if crawling from the depths of a thick, polychromatic tar-pit Thee Maldoror Kollective return with their 9th (yes, 9th) full-length album Knownothingism. Joined by Pina Kollars on vocals, the record is a brushstroke of madness and genius, sprawling through a dense jungle of ideas that Ducasse would surely approve of.

Waltzing into the (ball)room, ‘Clarity, oh Open Wound’ opens the record with a twisted quirk one would typically find in the slimy corners of something by The Residents. Part of this comparison derives from the Adams Family energy of the composition, but perhaps more from the seemingly deliberate choice to sequence this typically classical arrangement with MIDI instruments rather than the real deal… less a criticism and rather more an observation to consider. The piece (forgive the barrage of comparisons here) also glows of Pink Floyd in its two parts: the first half striking an incredible resemblance to ‘The Trial’ from Floyd’s opus The Wall. The second half, bleeds in from seemingly nowhere and holds great similarities to the many many many parts of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’. The closing refrain to this opening triptych is intense and groovy, with filthy synths and ALL the attitude; a stellar way to open a record that leaves absolutely no stones unturned.

“Wade in the water, my daughter” Pina sings in ‘An Uncontrollable Moment of High Tide’, as the band behind her rises progressively, much like white horses rolling into shore. All the while layers of cymbals and synthesisers splash behind a vast array of percussion and instrumentation. The song partners in tone perfectly with the record’s penultimate piece ‘Nirguna’; a darker, broodier song that is also sprayed with gliding strings and a striking rhythm section.

‘Cordyceps’ is a an eerie piece of sound-art, named rather appropriately for the body-snatching fungi that prays on insects, turning them into hosts and antennas for deadly infectious spores. The arrangement of Pina‘s reverberant half-spoken, half-wailed vocals atop sonic distortions and strangeness strikes a remarkable similarity to ‘Give Me That Sound’, from Jenny Hval’s excellent 2013 record Innocence is Kinky (certainly not a bad thing). The major difference between this and Hval’s piece though is that there is not a complete abandon of musical form, but rather the dense experimentation serves as an extended intro to a deeply funky number, in a similar fashion to the album opener. Keep an ear out for that vocoder, too!

The following two songs, ‘Mariguanda’ & ‘Lhasa & the Naked West’ are more rock-centric and driven than the rest of the album and serve as a stern punch to the chest for anyone who might have become a little lost in the experimentation of ‘Cordyceps’. Leading single ‘Mariguanda’ is a pummelling, psychedelic steamroller that could easily be Jefferson Airplane amidst a heavy DMT trip. Pina, more than ever, channels the ghost of Edith Piaf atop rolling drums and a powerful psychedelic blend of electric guitars and hammond organ one would typically find at hazy Deep Purple gig. Then there’s that Moprhine interlude. All the sax. All the slap bass. But not for long, as it returns once again to the punch. ‘Lhasa & the Naked West’ then wastes absolutely no time in dropping the listener head first into a sticky, dub-drenched swamp of foam and lazers.

Knownothingism, to quote a friend on hearing it, is an album worth listening to in this age of unnecessary records. A slightly cynical but also wise point, for it is true that we are now presented with any single idea that falls out of someone’s brain and straight onto the Internet. Knownothingism is not a single idea, it’s a hive of buzzing musical and thematic ideas that swarm around and fight each other to the death. To think a record could start with the ballroom gothic glamour of ‘Clarity, oh Open Wound’ and end with the Ozric Tentacles-inspired, electronic prog insanity that is ‘The Ashima Complex’ is utterly unbelievable. They say a good record does not need to be compared to that of another artist, for it stands on it’s own merits, but sometimes that just isn’t true; see the truly incredible thing about Thee Maldoror Kollective is that they seem extremely well-listened. Additional to this, they’re extremely proficient musicians who strive to challenge themselves to create something new… something more unique… something more insane. It would not surprise me in any way to find that Thee Maldoror Kollective are aliens from another planet and are using their music as a form of communication between our language of sound and music, to theirs of an entirely different form which, until we can translate it, remains an incredible mystery. Darmok and Jalad, on the ocean.

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