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It's a label showdown!
Metronomicon Audio vs. Jester Records - Round 10
coverpic coverpic Various Artists: 1.0
  (2002 Metronomicon Audio: MEAU.0010.CDR)
vs.
Star of Ash: iter.viator.
  (2002 Jester Records TRICK-010)

Welcome to round 10 in the label showdown series between Metronomicon Audio and Jester Records! Since we've more or less totally missed out on reviewing the output of these two great labels, we are going through their entire catalogues, matching the releases from each label consecutively against each other. Humorously counting goalsIt's a GOAL! and giving out yellowOooops, a yellow card! and redOooops, a red card! cards, soccer style - but first of all reviewing the music. For more introductory information on this label match, see round 1.

Match preview
1.0 is presented in the typical Metronomicon fashion - a CD-R packed in a flexible plastic sleeve with a cardboard folder and a small booklet containing art & information.
coverpic coverpic coverpic

The Star of Ash release comes in a jewel case and includes a booklet with art & info.
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The match
It's a Metronomicon Audio policy that every tenth release should be a sampler. This is round 10 in our label showdown series, hence we approach Metronomicon's first sampler, simply called 1.0. It consists solely of brand new tracks from their artists, no looking back here!

First up is Center of the universe with "Oh no! what a terrible situation" serving up the usual array of dry-sounding synthetic rhythms and sounds. There's a lot of different keyboard sounds here, but the Casio/vintage videogame aesthetics are overwhelming this nice, but forgettable C.O.U. tune. Forgettable is also Täppas Strepens' guitar-strumming campfire song "Der pinkeldne tod", it could easily be a filler on the Beans, Bacon & Gravity album. Absolutetly more interesting is Cyrano's "Cyrano luv", blending cold minimal synthpop with an exquisitely lush refrain, reminiscent of Air. This blend of 80's industrial minimalism and beautiful psychedelic spacepop is magnificientIt's a GOAL!!

Lower than lo-fi (C. Stouff) might be just that, "But higher" certainly doesn't challenge your hi-fi as all high frequencies seems abscent. If we look beyond this studio trickery, we're left with a rather grey and dull song, accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica. The next cut, Vildensky, seems to be both an artist moniker and the song title. Sounds like samples of 1920's dancefloor music and old jazz, cut-up and churned into a mix that doesn't make much senseOooops, a yellow card!, until the words "dada" appears towards the end. The Töyen vs. Paul's boutique track named "In space (in space remix)" also touches the annoyingOooops, a yellow card!, with absolutely incomprehensible lyrics, vocals recorded through another state of the art high frequency filter, sung over a simple repeating chord structure until the song eventually ends with an equally unimpressive fake-jazz impro theme.

Marie Sofie sings her nice, calm "starsandalike" accompanied only by acoustic guitar, seemingly recorded live at Amatøren (people talking in the background). Somewhat forgettable also, but that's all forgotten when Helene Rickhard takes over with "Pms", an irritating synthetic break-beat rave-upOooops, a red card!. Papppus arrives with "Super 8mm", perhaps the most traditional rock song on this compilation, reminiscent of U2 in more than one way - the bass lines, the melody and the singing all sound like early day U2 in a cheap studio. Magnus Moriarty™ ends the show with "Radio called superstar (1.0. mix)", a snappy psychedelic tune, again reminding me of the melodic sense of Bevis Frond, colourful and grey at the same time. Without doubt Magnus Moriarty™ is one of Metronomicon's strong cardsIt's a GOAL!.

To sum it up: Aside from a couple of highlights, this compilation can not be recommended as the best introduction to the Metronomicon rooster. Then again it is not a best-of compilation, but new tracks from the here and now - a glimpse into the creative collective that is Metronomicon Audio. Cyrano however, steals the show - his "Cyrano luv" is a smasherIt's a GOAL!! And that's the charm with Metronimicon, friendly and playful, not always so interesting, but from time to time they serve up small nuggets. "Cyrano luv" is a large one!

Star of Ash is Heidi Solberg Tveitan (aka Ihriel), wife of Vegard Sverre Tveitan (aka Ihsahn of Emperor), both members of Peccatum. Ihsahn is a black metal guitarist par excellence (and he also plays on this album), but Peccatum I'm not familiar with. So off we go.

Parts of iter.viator. are subdued and lyrical, with piano and strings building a reflective, sad atmosphere. This interacts with more dramatic parts, the singing occasionally adapting a more operatic style. Sometimes it develops into nightmarish cacophony, other times visiting lusher themes, while tracks like "Death Salutes Atropos" and "Odi Et Amo" are more confined to a goth-metal context. The lyrics are overall cryptic, images of light and darkness painted over each other, in that regard fitting the music wellIt's a GOAL!. However, the album as a whole is rather cliche-filled, both musically and lyricallyOooops, a yellow card!, even if I doubt that the line "I yearn to vomit my heart all over you" has been uttered before.

Often when musicians associated with metal go outside the genre, they bring a big brush, paint with large strokes, and use clear colours. There's nothing wrong with that, but often this means that descriptions like "avant-garde" or "experimental" should be read with caution when they are combined with "metal". Hard to put a label on "iter.viator." though. Dark chamber-goth-metal-trip-hop? And you may add "post", "neo", "avant" or "experimental" anywhere in there, if that makes things any clearer. This is also the main problem with this album. Its musical direction is unfocused, yet kind of stereotyped. And the duality which we find both in the music and the lyrics is, if not predictable, then at least unoriginal. Jester insiders Tore Ylwizaker and Kristoffer Rygg (both Ulver) help in the studio, leaving their sonic marks, but to little avail.

To sum it up: A line from lyrics of "The Nudity of Light" says "the shallowness of my own words sickens me ... mutes me". Perhaps this kind of self-insight should also apply to me and my review of this album ... I admit that it fails to engage me as a listenerOooops, a red card!.

Match result: Metronomicon Audio 3 (It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!) - Jester Records 1 (It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!)

THE LABEL TABLE
# Metronomicon Audio (MA) Jester Records (JR) MA JR
01 C.O.U.: Darklow Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Themes From William ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 1 4
02 C.O.U.: Sellout EP It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! Esperanza: Esperanza Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
03 C.O.U.: Bestboy Electric Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Arcturus: Disguised Masters It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card! 1 1
04 Cyrano & C.O.U.: s/t It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! When: Psychedelic Wunderbaum Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card! 2 1
05 Täppas Strepens: Beans, Bacon ... Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: Men-Mic It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL! 2 4
06 Now We've Got Members: Curious .. It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! Ulver: Metamorphosis It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 2 1
07 C.O.U.: Taking a Nap With It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Ulver: Perdition City It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! 2 4
08 Täppas Strepens: The Future ... Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL! Bogus Blimp: cords. wires Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 3
09 Magnus Moriarty™: Drive Fast ... It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! When: WriterCakeBox It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card! 3 5
10 Various Artists: 1.0 It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card!It's a GOAL! Star of Ash: iter.viator. It's a GOAL!Oooops, a yellow card!Oooops, a red card! 3 1
Total 21 25

Next match
Next head-to-head meeting is the Now We've Got Members album Le Jardin from Metronomicon Audio which is up against the Virus release Carheart from Jester Records.

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