12 O'Clock Track: "Horrorsentience" by Behold the Arctopus, who play tomorrow at Ultra Lounge | Bleader

12 O'Clock Track: "Horrorsentience" by Behold the Arctopus, who play tomorrow at Ultra Lounge

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

1 comment

The cover of Horrorscension
  • The cover of Horrorscension
I have a theory as to why the most recent Behold the Arctopus record, last year's Horrorscension (Blackmarket Activities), has been pretty much unanimously panned at Encyclopaedia Metallum. Well, it's not so much a theory as it is a biased and potentially inflammatory assumption, but isn't that what music criticism is all about?

Behold the Arctopus consists of guitarists Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts, Krallice) and Mike Lerner (Direwolf) and drummer Weasel Walter, a former Chicagoan best known as mastermind of the Flying Luttenbachers (though he's also a ferocious improviser). Let's call their music "instrumental technical metal" for the moment. Marston plays a hilariously large Warr guitar (an actual builder's name, not a sideways reference to the "air" and "earth" basses in Magma), whose layout of six melody strings and six bass strings, designed for fretboard tapping, permits him to execute two simultaneous lines. Under "Band Interests" on Facebook it says, "Notes, many notes."

The people bitching about Horrorscension generally dismiss it as aimless wankery or "chaos." Behold the Arctopus seems to have anticipated this complaint, though: the band's Facebook page also includes the tongue-in-cheek exhortation "Please listen to our music many, many times and the secrets will eventually be revealed to you." Few riffs ever repeat themselves even once, and for long stretches no time signature seems to last for more than a measure. Somebody at EM came up with the wonderful phrase "noxious atmosphere of calculated disorder," which gets pretty close to the mark (though I don't think it was intended as a compliment).

The difficulty as I see it is that Horrorscension presumes you'll listen to it with the same sort of obsessive attention that went into its composition. It's not "fun" or "catchy" or even, you know, especially pleasant. Its dense, intricate nonpatterns, with their ambience of alien dread, seem designed to appeal to compulsive overthinkers—the kind of people who grew up taking apart their parents' small appliances, who can't leave a crossword puzzle unfinished, and who might spend hours trying to decode a cryptogram without any assurance that it actually contains a message.

Mike Lerner, Weasel Walter, and Colin Marston. Four out of five interdimensional abominations agree that this band photo is very metal.
  • Mike Lerner, Weasel Walter, and Colin Marston. Four out of five interdimensional abominations agree that this band photo is very metal.

The gentlemen in Behold the Arctopus appear entirely conscious of the absurdity of their undertaking. They make completely unreasonable music, which not only fails to meet the audience halfway but actively resists any attempts to approach it. If the very fact that people this talented would spend years laboring to create such a thing strikes you as a brilliant multilayered self-referential joke at the expense of everyone involved, I suspect you're their kind of person. If it doesn't, I guess you could always contribute a huffy review to Encyclopaedia Metallum.

Behold the Arctopus plays Thu 3/14 at Ultra Lounge with Guzzlemug and Arbogast. And to demonstrate that I'm not exaggerating in the slightest about their songs, here's the Horrorscension track "Horrorsentience."

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Add a comment