There is a film, directed by the brilliant Robert Bresson, called Au Hasard Balthazar, released back in 1966. About said film, Jean Luc-Godard once said, "Everyone who sees this film will be absolutely astonished ... because this film is really the world in an hour and a half." Godard was, and still is, quite right on this judgement. To this day, very few works of art have achieved as much as this unfortunately-less-known-than-it-deserves film. And those that have surpassed can be counted by hand.
46 years later, coming from somewhere in China, the best harsh noise group in the world, possibly, Torturing Nurse has, in a way - since I don't know their actual intentions; although I don't care - achieved the very same that Au Hasard Balthazar did in my own and Godard's opinions, albeit in a much more abstract form. And, apparently not happy enough with managing that, they did it 15 minutes and 36 seconds; the shortest album-masterpiece I've ever heard.
Torturing Nurse's The Nihilism, released by Darker Days Ahead on April 25, might be shorter than most EPs, even, but I don't see why I shouldn't go ahead and call it the Record of the Year - so far. It wasn't since Colin Stetson's latest effort from last year that I had listened to something so exquisite, indescribably intense and masterly crafted. And yes, I say exquisite because no image, unless those that represent an equivalent, equalizes the marvelousness of that where one is "jumping into the abyss, dancing" - exactly what Torturing Nurse's music is doing.
It sickens me only to think about how many pretentious pseudo-philosophical-lyrics-fueled hipster bands could've called their albums The Nihilism in a sorry attempt at trying to convey the word's vast meaning into boring-derivative music and well... you've read my lyrics description. When I saw that this was a Torturing Nurse album, though, I was no less than unbelievably excited; and I was no less that unbelievably filled with wonder to find out that this album wasn't named in vain. This is Nietszche's Superman, if such a man exists, latest addition to his list of albums of choice; the 15'36" artistic-statement illustration of its title-word rips apart most musicians self-conceived notions of meaning-through-music. A truly magnum opus conceived by those which already are masters of a music genre where imagery is an intrinsic part of the composition process.
This will be a short review, I'll tell you now: if I spend more than the album's length reviewing it, I'm an idiot - or you're a slow reader. The album starts with "I", a beautiful sample of Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind's main title for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, which, in turn, is based on Hector Berlioz' interpretation of the "Dies Irae", used in his "Symphonie Fantastique;" an appropriate intro for the half-beautiful, half-horrifying view that's to come. Art, sometimes, is just a matter of recontextualization - after all, Pieter Bruegel's painting, The Hunters In the Snow, wouldn't mean as much as it does without two particular films - if you're interested enough, search for it. But I shush, the machines enter; human work, mechanical work; purposely unrhythmic, it's nothing but a marvelous play with your mind, expecting you to surely try to find some sense in it. Nothing but despair to be found on "III", then, leading to Torturing Nurse at its prime on "IV", an realistically incoherent mass of harsh noise. Is that the sound of the lunatic bipolar God that creates and destroys without ever coming to terms with Himself?; is that the sound of pure chance? Is this the abyss that we're to fall into? We'll kill ourselves, or be killed by whichever unimportant, insignificant forces that there is, before we ever get to know - that's "V." What "VI" is I won't tell you, though; find out by yourself what I mean when I talk about the beauty of emptiness - and how it means as much as the next nothing; we're all trapped.
I don't know the faces of Youki, Misuzu, Miriam and Junky, the Nurses' current members, but I know that even harsh noise, possibly the most love-it or hate-it genre that there is (and especially because of this) can be a place where you can delve into for a connection. Some like comfort, and others, confrontation - I won't argue which or even if one has more merits than the other, strong arguments can invalidate both sides - but that's hardly what matters here. The Nihilism is above all this, this is an album that's so apart from other music I've heard during the course of my - admittedly less full of repertoire than I'd like - life that I don't see how anyone should not try it. Don't get me wrong though, this album doesn't care for or needs a reaction. It Is. The reaction is something this stupid reviewer wants to see, be it disgust, indignation or adoration, amazement. Some men just want to watch the world burn, right?; in their own unimportant ways. Listen to it; and whatever you think of it, it won't matter - and that's when you realize how brilliant it is.
P.S.: Opposing to this, and surprisingly sooner than later I'll be reviewing something that can only be described as... massive... and epic. Stay tuned.
- Buy the album at Darker Days Ahead site (IT ISN'T DIGITAL, but I thought it might be of help to add this link). Only 25 were made and there's 9 left - want to buy one for this literally poor reviewer? #worthashot, haha
- Torturing Nurse on Facebook