Ravi Shardja - Grün Ist Grau [Grautag - 2013]
GOL member Xavier Roux is better known by his alias, Ravi Shardja. This pseudonym isn't surprising considering Xavier's passion for Carnatic music. The combination of Indian and experimental music makes sense, too, given the heavy use of drone in both styles. In addition to his solo project and releases with GOL, Ravi keeps busy by scoring films and theatrical performances.
Grautag Records ("Gray Day") is releasing double LP sets dealing with dystopia and the changing landscape. Ravi's entry, Grün Ist Grau ("Green Is Gray"), consists of four side long tracks dealing with the shift in visual landscape from lush, green, and vibrant to cold, gray, stark, and littered with abandoned technological relics. The first piece on Grün Ist Grau is the ridiculously titled "Bombay Boobies Battle." Once you get past the name, you'll enjoy it, as this is the strongest side on the album. The buzzing, oscillating drone swells and decays like a sea that has become unwelcoming and turned to poison. Distant, robotic vocals add to the sense of unease and Big Brother paranoia. Pulses emerge and coalesce into a rudimentary, crunchy beat. The distorted bells play along with the thick, crunchy synth. After thinning out a bit, alien buzzing returns and ends the song on a good note. Ravi's Indian influence comes into play on "Curry nelli occhi unacromatopsia momentanea." The sparse, electric sitar adds interesting, organic tones to a really electronic feeling album. Distant drums join in with the strings to complete the tribute before eventually fading out and returning to the cold, electronic arms of your robot overlords. The transition is a bit more jarring than I'm making it seem, and it doesn't play in the song's favor. "Attaque sournoise du Kopassus à Wamena" has a bug like feel. Random tones play along with the "bugs" over drones and evoke a forest feel among the cold tones. It's pretty interesting. Much like the two previous songs, "Attaque" ends with a rougher, louder, unrelated cap. Rounding out the album is "Gartenfest Fessenheim abgesagt." Although very minimal in structure, "Gartenfest" has some of the most chaotic moments on the album. However, the placement of this track would've been better on Side B (to me, anyway, and we all know I'm an expert).
Grün Ist Grau has some really excellent sounds on it, Unfortunately, there is a lot of space in between. If this were only a single LP, it would've played a bit more chaotic, sure, but it wouldn't have caused me to look up every few minutes to see how much was left in the song (and this happened EVERY time I listened it). Speaking of chaos, the sounds don't always match up for me. Sure, that can be attributed to the whole green/gray dystopia business, but whatever. I played it on headphones while I worked, and that fit it very well. I can see why Xavier does soundtracks, as it sounded nice but wasn't really a main attraction.