Fangs is the debut solo EP from Canadian born (Newfoundland and Labrador) New Zealand based experimental guitarist and electronic musician Neddal Ayad. This release follows the collaboration he did with Jon Free (Penthouse, Gin Palace) in February on the album Emerald, which was reviewed by my colleague Jamie Grimes. Aside from composing music Neddal also contributes to The Shaman, conducting excellent interviews with the likes of Thomas V. Jäger (Monolord), Orgöne, Hominid Sounds label owner Matt Ridout and Kjetil Nernes of Årabrot.
Ukrainian artist Ksenia Korniewska created both the EP’s artwork as well as the video to Deep Moon. Given the ominous and dark nature of both, Ksenia’s Instagram description of herself as a ‘reclusive paintress, sombre slave-girl of death’ would be somewhat accurate. The artwork also hints at the music to come which has been described in the promo notes as ‘dark, brooding, sometimes ecstatic series of instrumentals based on themes of dislocation, lust, longing, frustration, and dissonance’.
The EP starts with Slow Silver Wave, a track that lives up to its name with wave after wave of distortion and feedback, in a similar vein to the pioneering early work of Dylan Carlson and Earth. The track is hypnotically beautiful, the melody pointing its way to My Bloody Valentine and frontman Kevin Shield’s glide guitar technique. Next up is Grinding, the shortest track on here at only one and a half minutes, a brilliantly bonkers guitar styled freakout that is part Marc Ribot, part Frank Zappa and part early Boredoms (or any number of crazy Japanese artists, Ruins, Zeni Geva, Melt Banana). After the melancholic charm of Slow Silver Wave, it comes as quite a surprise, albeit a welcome one.
Things start getting a little more electronic with the aforementioned Deep Moon creating some pleasant ambience before some Einsturzende Neubauten, Cabaret Voltaire industrial noise comes to the forefront, all of which makes for an uncomfortable and foreboding listen. Coincidentally Ken Russell is mentioned in the promo notes and this track would have been perfect for Altered States, especially the hallucinatory scenes. It mirrors a lot of Russell’s work in fact, starts off serene before plunging into abject madness and insanity, a calm before the storm.
[Slow Silver Wave] is hypnotically beautiful, the melody pointing its way to My Bloody Valentine and frontman Kevin Shield’s glide guitar technique…
Debussy is the longest track on the EP and is definitely the most challenging so far. Named after the French composer Claude Debussy, the track takes on more of an abstract impressionistic tone and one gets the feeling that Neddal adopted Debussy’s approach, creating music based solely on mood and atmosphere. I rather enjoyed it but it did take a couple of listen to get my head round it before I was fully on board. Pointless Leather kind of brings the EP full circle, with some droning noise that drone doom metal fans will appreciate. If Sunn O)) (when they good) floats your boat, you’ll appreciate this concluding number.
While I do heavily respect music of this type, sometimes a whole album’s worth can be incredibly testing on one’s patience. The good thing about Fangs is that Neddal doesn’t fall into the same trap and has concocted a work with enough diversity and creativity to keep your interest. This made for an interesting little release of an appropriate length, and what he does is challenge your musical perceptions without boring you to tears, or leaving you bewildered.
It will be interesting to hear what Neddal’s future output will sound like, and where he goes from here. In the meantime I will have to satisfy myself with his contributions to The Shaman and that’s more than alright by me.
Scribed by: Reza Mills