[CD Review] Arrington de Dionyso, 'I See Beyond the Black Sun' (K Records)

Throat singing and jaw harp, anyone? Old Time Relijun front man Arrington de Dionyso makes his second solo showing an eccentric one, shelving any semblance of Western song structure to hungrily explore the traditional Tuvan music he studied years ago at Olympia, Washington’s Evergreen State College. But even that’s not by the books: De Dionyso brings his usual love of experimentation to the table, connecting the eerie drone of throat singing to the bleary atmosphere of avant-garde jazz.

A bass clarinet wavers and squawks through “Into Gardens” until it resembles guitar feedback for a moment, while the following “Ten Thousand Year Vision” sees it take shape as more of a goose-like trill. There’s something unmistakably foreboding about de Dionyso’s wielding of it, although those brief entries pale in comparison to a trio of songs totaling 47 minutes (and the bulk of the album). On those and elsewhere, he bends his multiphonic voice to impressive new purposes, often sustaining low tones that can’t help but make our skin crawl.

While the album closes with “Les Grenouilles Cherbourg,” things come to a head one track earlier on “Pluto In Capricorn (I See Beyond the Black Sun).” About halfway into it, a proper drum beat kicks in, and de Dionyso’s singing veers into what sounds alternately like blubbering, growling, clearing his throat, gnashing his teeth and perhaps finally disappearing into some animalistic seizure.

Even in the band-based art rock of Old Time Relijun, de Dionyso always challenged the listener and had a knack for penetrating comfort zones. I See Beyond the Black Sun is clearly not for everyone—even folks who enjoy it will have to be in the right frame of mind to do so—but it remains a cathartic, adventurous tearing down of boundaries.

 
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