Self Spiller - Worms in the Keys
Varia Records
Avantgarde
8 songs (37'30")
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

I picked up Self Spiller to review only after learning that Jason Walton (bassist for Agalloch) is the man behind the helm of this intriguing project. Not to mention his body of work in Agalloch, Celestiial and Sculptured, when the man was writing for Metal Maniacs his reviews were always on the money. Released back in 2012, Worms in the Keys was put together by fourteen musicians from different bands, styles and continents, all chosen by Jason to contribute to this mind-boggling vision. Some of the names are known, familiar, and almost expected to be mentioned in the same sentence with Jason. Don Anderson (Agalloch, Sculptured) is present on guitars, Andy Winter (Winds, Age of Silence) does his beloved keyboards, and the duo of Mirai Kawashima and Dr. Mikannibal bring on their organ and saxophone, respectively, from the quirky Japanese Sigh. Yet, there are also musicians coming from the bands I never heard of, and that just goes to show how little I know. All of these people recorded their tracks and portions of the album without even knowing what the others are doing or what the whole product would sound like. Having received this aural smorgasbord, Jason had to sort through it and stich up a quilt, which defies all sorts of expectation and ability to be described verbally.

In some ways Worms in the Keys reminds me of my Outlook Inbox, workday and sometimes of my life in general. The album is overwhelming, bouncing from side to side within the same track, pulling in million directions all at once. I do not know Jason personally, but this masterpiece is put together by someone not with just bipolar, but multipolar, disorder. OCD (obsessive compulsive syndrome) and ADD (attention deficit disorder) combined, is the minimum diagnosis I can put on this mindfuck, but what a delectable mindfuck this is …

Just consider Folds of Skin to Lay starting with drilling penetrating synth, switching to crazy techno dance using mewing for vocals, all of this arriving at some mid-Eastern bazaar, where saxophone plays a solo. Urgent string picked melody, intriguing darkness with seductive female vocals, all broken with some harsh vocals, which are, in turn, beaten back by some sort of wind instrument and dissolving keyboards. Have enough already? Confused? Don’t be afraid though, as all of it together just makes sense, and makes you want to listen to Worms in the Keys over and over again. Therefore I Worship brings on the Beatles melody you just would not want to stop playing. Yet it does, yielding to a combination of techno, video game music, hardcore and bright pop. At least Rot on Root manages to mostly stay within the realm of harsh cold electronica, losing in the end to nice warm strings and pleasant voice. I Spit in the Stomach of Zombies, and even more so Skite, are edgier, bordering on hurtful, take on a cacophonous Sigh angle somewhat, but by then you are prepared to handle the hit. The madness in the middle of Skite can give you an idea why “worms are”, indeed, “in the keys” with Self Spiller. Dark ambient atmospheric closer Strong but Damaged, in the vein of The Gathering or Antimatter, calms things down a bit, but as soon as it was over I hit the replay button to repeat the experience. And so I did on and on, for about a week, before even attempting to put this review on paper.

Originally released as a superlimited edition CD, Worms in the Keys are now available as still limited vinyl release, special packaging and all, and if you have a chance and want to understand a true meaning of avant-garde, give it a listen.

Killing Songs :
If you get it, you will be entranced by all of them
Alex quoted 90 / 100
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