Ipecac is inarguably the most adventurous, aggressive music label in existence right now, releasing everything from the avant big-band jazz of Flat Earth Society to the outré work of film composer Ennio Morricone, not to mention Mike Patton's various and quirky musical projects (Tomahawk, Fantômas, General Patton vs. the X-ecutioners), each with its own uniquely strange sensibility.
Now Ipecac delves into the world of classical music with a 12-song choral concept album by experimental musician Eyvind Kang. American by birth, Kang has traveled and worked in many different countries outside the United States, studying violin and ethnic instrumentation and melding classical composition with shards of punk, jazz and atmospheric noise. His latest release, Athlantis, appears to be an effort to create a modern-day oratorio with vocalists like Patton and Jessika Kenney (Black Cat Orchestra). If you have a taste for 20th-century French composers like Maurice Duruflé and Gabriel Fauré, then Kang's colorful, melodic style may be just what you're looking for.
The first three tracks are somber yet agreeable, almost verging on dissonance, flirting with it, but ultimately giving in to sweetness and light. It's only by the fourth composition, "Rabianara," that things take a dark turn with Patton and other vocalists growing more guttural against waves of ambient trumpet, trombone and tuba. There are distinct Indian elements to the sitar-draped "Inquisitio," and Kenney tears at the heartstrings with the lovely requiem of "Ros Vespertinus."
Definitely an album to be played late at night and early in the morning, Athlantis will have you dreaming of distant worlds and uncanny beings in no time.