Tapes » Hidden Persuaders – Elegies and Curses

Hidden Persuaders – Elegies and Curses

Hidden Persuaders – “Elegies and Curses” Tape (A Giant Fern, 2015)


Musique Machine:

Hidden Persuaders – Elegies and Curses [A Giant Fern – 2015]

A Giant Fern presents Elegies and Curses, the latest offering from Hidden Persuaders. Released in 2015 on limited edition cassette, it appears to have gone the way of the dodo bird. However, the curious can still find it streamable on the label’s bandcamp site. This is my first dance with Hidden Persuaders, but low and behold I see that this is another one of Andreas Brandal’s many projects. I’ve been quite a fan of the solo work he has published, including works under the Flesh Coffin and Avmakt monikers. Each project has its own distinct sound. From eerie synth to static noise, Brandal has managed to toil in nearly every permutation of “experimental” music. Hidden Pleasures is no different. On this project Brandal is accompanied by percussionist Børre Myklebust (who is also a collaborator in Uvesen).

Elegies and Curses unfolds like a series of funeral dirges, focused and bleak….ritualistic death marches carrying fallen souls from earth to the darkest realms of Hades. Plodding drums collide in measured beats, while rubbery bass lines and fuzzed guitar gallop toil in their own caucophony. There’s definitely nods to blackened drone, metal, and sludge, however the recording sounds leaner…punkier at times. It builds atmospheric dread, not with overt heaviosity, but with striking just the right eerie tones. There are also some synth and noise elements used to great effect, especially the sounds of broken glass. That’s somewhat of a rough sketch of the first 5 cuts. It’s the album’s final track, “A Region of Ultimate Alternatives,” where all fucking hell breaks loose. The track unfolds sounding like a piece machinery forged from hell. Arrghhh!!!

Despite sounding quite different than any other Brandal effort I’ve encountered, this distinctly still has some very familiar Brandal fingerprints on it. It’s certainly as enthralling as anything this artist has done to date. Highly recommended!

Rating: 5 out of 5 – Hal Harmon


Black Metal & Brews:

Hidden Persuaders- “Elegies and Curses”

Black metal as an art form exists in contradiction with itself at many times. A genre born out of rebellion and reaction has become a hub for bored purists to tout their elitism. As a passionate fan of the confrontational and transforming nature of this music at its core, I’m often just as thrilled when an act uses elements of black metal to patch something entirely new together as I am when presented with brilliantly executed orthodox black metal. When given an industrial collage like Hidden Persuaders‘ newest release, Elegies and Curses, I find myself with few words to describe it, as it’s more of a personal experience of joy and discovery. It’s one of the rare times where the chaotically arranged album art (courtesy of the ever talented øjeRum) is an almost perfect representation of the contents within. Still I’ll ask you to follow me briefly as I endeavor to discuss this compelling album.

For this writer, Elegies and Curses is the point of entry into Hidden Persuaders, although this is the project’s third release since its inception in 2014. From the beginning of album opener “A Baptism of Shadows,” one can hear the fractured sounds of connections cutting in and out, chains rattling, and glass breaking, all over the constant throbbing of a simple yet effective ritualistic beat conjured up with repetitive drums, pulsing bass, and fuzzy, distorted guitar that more frequently conjures tones and textures than it does single notes or melodies. The pairing of conventional song structures with such alarming and confusing instrumentation makes for a listen that will excite fans of heavy metal’s more progressive side just as much as folks who worship the likes of NWW and Neubauten. Much of Elegies and Curses feels like an anthem for the empty streets after the world’s end, a call for the few survivors to succumb to the emptiness of death, yet it’s not as bleak as that may sound. Indeed, it’s the hints of melody and deliberate pacing that make Hidden Persuaders’ madness seem more inviting than frightening. The strong element of control is what makes this such a masterful release, with fear peaking only long enough to create a rush and comfort only yielding so much territory. For me, the album’s highlight is the frenzied crunch of “Continuous Awakening,” with blown-out vocals sheltered by bursts of pure static and ushered onward by percussion that feels more mechanical than human. In the future, music may resemble chewed up and oddly regurgitated versions of the sounds we know today. I feel that Hidden Persuaders has already taken a glance or two at what that may look like.

Elegies and Curses was released by A Giant Fern some number of months ago, yet these ears were a bit late to the game on this release. A select few copies of this cassette remain in stock and I strongly urge you to welcome one into your own personal collection. It’s a ceremonial horror you’ll revisit many times with equal parts joy and dread.

Hidden Persuaders- “Elegies and Curses”

Tome To the Weather Machine:

Hidden Persuaders – Elegies and Curses (A Giant Fern, 2015)

It is fitting that the Hidden Persuaders’ name also shares the title of a book detailing how corporate psychologists play on our fears and desires to sell us stuff we don’t really want/need. At the tail-end of late-era capitalism our fears and desires aren’t ours anymore, rather, part of a collected subconscious no longer manipulated by symbology and totems that chart our developmental progress but manufactured by the book/movie representations to sell products that help us achieve/eliminate said desire/fear. I’ve felt a lot of things while listening to music. There have been very few that approach genuine fear. Elegies and Curses gets close. Glacially slow Black Metal played over and between excellent sound art/collage that has punctuated Hidden Persuaders’ earlier releases. The space between plodding bass riffs and the next distortion-filled riff are filled to their breaking point with menacing drones, black syrup synths, stabs of contact mic static and the undeniable sound of a fist through glass…perfectly synchronized to fall on the downbeat. Elegies and Curses is a masterfully heavy, downright disorienting release that skirts the outer edges of metal and plays it back through a filter that is somehow even more scary and fucked up than the trumped up tropes that it has come to embody. Highly recommended.


A Closer Listen:

Hidden Persuaders ~ Elegies and Curses

Never underestimate the power of a great cover. That’s what drew us to imprint A Giant Fern in the first place, as øjeRum’s art graced a quartet of releases that made our Best Album Covers feature late last year. The best of the quartet, Hidden Persuaders‘ The Bone Forest, was a dark ambient set that experimented with sound effects and sudden shifts. Elegies and Curses is a very different beast, bordering on sludge and black metal. It’s rare to encounter an artist who can move between genres, but Andreas Brandal has been doing it for years. The only constant is the tone; he’s been called “the Norwegian master of the macabre,” and we don’t expect to hear a happy album from him anytime soon.

Last time out, we mentioned the ceremonial drums, but failed to credit drummer Børre Myklebust; he serves an expanded role here. The bursts of bass, guitar, drums and synthesizer call to mind the work of The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, but with one major difference; while the latter band tempers its work with strings, Hidden Persuaders adds breaking glass, rattling chains and other sonic effects. Elegies and Curses is too melodic to be a haunted house album, but the underpinning is there; it’s dark in a cinematic way, reminiscent of the nightclub rather than the cellar. And through it all, the drums, the drums, as if some ritualistic sacrifice is about to take place.

“A Baptism of Shadows” establishes the pace with a plodding tempo offset by sonic explosions. “The Privilege of Madness” adds distortion, knocking percussion and riffs to (literally) die for. Yes, if you answer this door, you’ll die. The best part of the track is the barrage of static and drone that attacks midway and keeps coming back. It’s not subtle, but horror seldom is, and it has a way of attracting prospective victims. This pulverizing music is more hammer than knife; one can hear the killer’s footsteps, but can’t help but peek. The film dialogue at the center of “Contradicting the Future” kidnaps the cassette to a more sinister place; at this point, the evil seems palpable.

Brandal is a prolific artist, having participated in over a dozen groups in the last two decades. This being said, Elegies and Curses is one of his more powerful releases. The closing track is as black as black gets, so dark that one can barely intuit shade. We wouldn’t have it any other way. (Richard Allen)

Hidden Persuaders ~ Elegies and Curses

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