Like a shark, the survival of Aluk Todolo hinges on incessant movement. Unlike a shark, Aluk Todolo are consciously haunted by their own mortal fragility. Percussion moves in frantic twitches and convulsive thrusts; cymbals scuttle like spiders, drums palpitate like a torso in the throes of violent nightmare. All the while, bass and guitar tap into the nausea of fear, mimicking all manner of hornet’s nests and prickling sensations. Aluk Todolo can sense the gnarled fingers of silence clasping at their ankles; Voix captures the sensation of being constantly terrified, forever running forward while obsessively looking back. Is this any way to live?
I’ve not heard a more anxious bass hook than the one that rambles over the closing movement – constantly rolling, tumbling; a quickening breath, a dangerously juddering heart; coaxing the guitar toward shrieks of noise and riling the crash cymbals into frenzy, bouncing between the restive, reactionary sensitivity of free jazz and krautrock’s curse of eternal motion. In these circumstances, even the most innocuous of reference points turn sinister – surf rock slinks out of reverb springs, while twangs of Americana conjure the image of a panic attack in a wild western saloon. I’ve been through the experience several times now, and I’d implore you to take this advice: breathe deep into that fleeting pause that arrives between tracks one and two. Cherish the moment that all of the instruments are sucked into the void of cathedral echo. It’s the one, solitary second of stillness in an otherwise ceaseless 43 minutes.