Arriving home at approximately 5:30 PM EST, I walk up to my door to see the familiar Temporary Residence logo on the front of an LP vinyl mailer; the initial excitement that washes over me is dwarfed solely by my need to call a friend to exclaim my surprise and, quite possibly, gloat that I will be hearing the Jesu and Eluvium split before he will be (he has a train ride commute that will keep him from getting home before me). While frantically trying to open the package, I dial up my friend to let him know my apparent good fortune; even though there is no answer, the voicemail that I leave him will suffice in proclaiming my infinite superiority in this matter (hearing the new Jesu tracks are of particular importance and to do so before he gets to experience it confirms said superiority). After hanging up the phone and opening the package almost simultaneously, I seem to lose conscious control of my actions; the pristine piece of red vinyl seems to find its way onto the record player of its own volition and the volume on my stereo counts higher as the sound fills the room.
Allow me to digress (as if this rather long winded diatribe of gloating and other such childish behavior is not enough), this split LP is interesting for several reasons: the pairing of two excellent bands (although both are more like solo projects on this document), the pairing of two equally excellent record labels (this is a split release between Hydra Head and Temporary Residence), the second pairing of the two groups already this year (both of them contribute excellent remixes for the latest Explosions in the Sky record), and more new music from both Jesu and Eluvium when this year has already been privy to full-length albums from each group.
The truly shocking aspect of the Jesu side of this split album is that the three new songs, with a perceivable atmospheric feel to their moo, that Justin Broadrick lays down for listeners are arguably the most laid back tracks that Jesu has released. The sweeping synthesizers that dominate "Farewell" provide a grand backdrop for the subtle keyboard melodies and the rather numb sounding vocal arrangements; the rhythm section is created with a heavily electronic drum sound that maintains an effective and minimalist presence which allows for the other pieces of the song to take the foreground. "Blind and Faithless" strikingly calls to mind the work of My Bloody Valentine save for the all-instrumental nature of the song (being a My Bloody Valentine novice level listener, I may be completely wrong on this point), and the relative brevity (compared to most other Jesu tracks anyway) is actually quite unexpected. The ragged drum sounds (particularly the snare hits) of "Why Are We Not Perfect" affects a world weary mood on the proceedings while the vocals only intensify that feel; Broadrick seems to be intent on, not only cornering the market for this type of sound, (just please do not start using the horrific term "metal-gaze" to describe it) but also pushing its boundaries bit by bit.
Eluvium, in stark contrast to Jesu, offers a single track for this split release; Matthew Cooper's "Time Travel of the Sloth Parts I, II, and III" is similar to the more epic length pieces that Jesu normally offers on their non album songs, and, keeping with the grand scheme of this split release, has an atmospheric feel that permeates the entire instrumental piece. Amongst the bellowing noises and the calm piano lay enough synthesized electronic treatments to fill the full spectrum of sound during the length of the song; the subtle narrative that Cooper uses effectively at times does appear to be in good form that naturally progresses to a climax that is just about suffocating (but in a way that is strangely enjoyable). It is an enjoyable listen that rewards the time allotted to it with the myriad of quiet intricacies that Cooper jams into the breadth of the song; due to its length though, it takes more time to digest, and, even after several concentrated sessions of my attention, I surmise that there is still more layers yet that are escaping my notice. I have to admit that the Jesu side of the record is more to my liking.
As a whole, the record is an excellent release that is hampered slightly by the omission of a lyric sheet or any kind of tangible insert to document the guilty parties; instead, a single blurb on the record jacket is all the commemoration of the proceedings that is given while the sleeve art is as grand as the scope of the music lying within on the vinyl, which makes it doubly sore that there is no insert provided in the packaging. The music definitely leaves one wanting more on both counts with the contributions of Jesu clocking at roughly the sixteen and a half minute mark, while the Eluvium track appearing for just under twenty minutes on the other side of the vinyl. All hyperbole aside, this is a great record for both artists that demonstrates two artists that are surprisingly complimentary when their music stands side by side. I highly recommend acquiring this record which is limited (the Temporary Residence Limited version is already sold out with the Hydra Head version still waiting for release) and no CD version has been officially announced as of yet by either of the record labels involved in its release. Do not sleep on it if you are a fan of either group or you will be sorry.
8.7 / 10
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