Review: Kekal “Quantum Resolution” [Eastbreath Records]

Review: Kekal “Quantum Resolution” [Eastbreath Records]

- in Reviews

Every two or three years the Indonesian avant-garde pioneers Kekal pleases the audience with the new release, this year they have released the 12th full-length “Quantum Resolution” through the independent local label Eastbreath. It’s not possible to describe the music of Kekal in laconic manner, but undoubtedly Kekal have never followed the trends, they have always created unique material, combining seemingly incompatible, and although their music sometimes sounds disharmoniously, in some way it is logical and coherent. Like the cover art, with all the technical precision and search for core soul of humanity, a perfect mix of logical physical world and the unknown depths of spiritual infinity.

Kekal exists for 25 years, but they didn’t gain the big auditorium because of too original musical concepts, but the lovers of avant-garde music value them much, not every band is able to create something within the borders of time, exploring the amorphousness of pure art. These guys have an excellent reputation on extreme experimental scene (but not in Indonesia, but no prophet is accepted in his own country), and that encourages them to create and make something new, because they’ve never afraid of experiments, all their music basically is one big experiment. This is not retro, but it also isn’t the futuristic music, it is full of extreme metal elements, but at the same time there can be found the modern trip-hop, intelligent jazz or even oriental elements. The music is full of controversy, but however it is logically connected. Lyrically Kekal has researched the gnosis, a search for answers about what is humanity through the perspective of time (past, present and the future) and how the time-frame distorts the essence of humanity. This is very serious and mature music, which demands the total concentration, and then only it’s possible to estimate the multi-layered prowess of skillful technicality and brave experimentations.

The sound isn’t clear enough, and there are some pretenses for mastering as well, but sometimes this dirtiness is very welcomed, because the elements of noise and messy guitar riffs emphasize the psychedelic aura. The foundation of the album is metal-based, but electronica and ambient also can be found throughout the record. The singer often uses the recital and reading technique (and his exotic accent is very audible), but still he sings a lot, and the most melodic parts are the most emotional ones. Despite such a wide range of different musical genres and experimental moves, it doesn’t increase the scale of insanity or create a chaotic cacophony; the album is surprisingly peaceful and calm. And every song doesn’t sound similar to another; every one of them has an individual soul, demonstrating the diverse ideas.

There’s plenty of electronical influence on “Quantum Resolution”, some songs are closer to IDM (“Testimony”), some are relative to industrial (“Zoe”), but some are influenced by soft synth pop. Symphonic and cosmic ambient occasionally turns into epicness (like in “Apocalypse: Quantum Resolution”), but generally ambient, new age and drone elements create a perfect and a little bit creepy background. Trip-hop here lies in an intimate accordance with a trap genre, so the songs “Quiet Eye” and “Inward Journey” sound like contemporary pieces. In fact Kekal sounds progressively in their visions, and their music more fits to Western culture, only the song “Testimony” hints about their eastern roots. The ethereal female voice and solemn choirs intricately embellish some of the tracks, making them more tender and bright, but the heaviest song is “Driven”, and during the roughest moments there can be heard a high-pitched muffled screaming. From time to time the elements of free jazz (“Spiritual Anarchism”) and progressive rock (“Hidden No More”) casually emerge. The strong emphasis is also on the sound effects (especially on song “Apocalypse: Quantum Resolution”), transforming into noise, which makes the mood of the album more disturbing. The bizarre distorted guitar riffs also add a substantial dose of avant-garde, so the level of innovative ideas and extraordinary moves is truly striking.

Despite that this album wasn’t full of surprises for Kekal fans, because to a certain extent it is the same old Kekal, but still this music continues to evolve. The search for new ideas, the dalliance with the topic of existentialism, the ability to harmonically reconcile different musical styles and emotional ability to evoke strong feelings into listeners; it all proves, how complex and well-structured is this art of music. And above all, with every new album of Kekal you never know what to expect; and even if “Quantum Resolution” fits into concept of their music, in the meantime this album is like a separate entity (and every song on it is a separate history as well), too individualistic to compare even with the previous albums. Kekal still represents on the extreme metal scene the spirit of unbridled avant-garde, and according to this album, the musicians have not intentions to give up, only exploring deeper the limitless possibilities of music.

Release date: August 1st, 2020

www.kekal.org

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Ilona Adhlactha

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