Thee Maldoror Kollective
A Clockwork Highway

I just came.

Italy is well known for mixing perverted ideas together and expressing the results musically. Usually such releases are worthy of filling the garbage bin, but exceptions are known to happen. Thee Maldoror Kollective is one of such occasions with their latest album where things could have gone horribly wrong, but luckily didn’t.

You get sauce from Ulver, the meat from a bunch of old school industrial and ambient bands and a bag of oregano from the guys of Aborym. As an added bonus, you might want to buy a bag of Through Silver in Blood-sugar from 7-Eleven-Neurosis . Mix it together and cook appropriately and you might wound up getting a tasty snack of futuristic audiovisuals of mind consuming atmosphere called A Clockwork Highway. It’s quite a lot less minimalistic and less humane than Ulver’s modern new messiah, Perdition City but equally (although quite differently) thought provoking; cold, bleak and disturbed. Where Perdition City took us into the depths of living room electronics and crowds walking on rainy streets, A Clockwork Highway builds images of clinical Orwellian architecture, where the harmony of the white walls is scarred with blood trails and mystic spray paintings; hints of self-destruction or perhaps of mind’s own personal rebellion?

Thee Maldoror Kollective is vocal, but doesn’t feature a vocalists in the traditional sense. It’s not new for bands to use clips from movies and other audio enabled products, but TMK does it in a way where it doesn’t feel out of place. While you know they’re from different sources, you somehow automatically put aside the clear “hey, that’s from that and that”-thoughts; an automated self-defence process that allows TMK to show you another possibilities and concepts. There are also original vocal works, mainly in the form of distant screaming and display of agony. The samples knitted to the white skin, paint somewhat of a schizophrenic atmosphere.

Musically, it’s mainly machines and beats but the mechanical spine is also embodied with low-tune guitars and tribalistic drumming – much in the fashion of 1996’s Neurosis. Some of the sounds used in the creation of the ‘music’ bring even more movie connections to mind, like the adapted blips on the album’s weakest track, “The Hills have Eyes”, instantly injected my brain with Blade Runner’s Voight-Kampf tests and the noise of the imaging machine, used to observe the photographs – the memories. While the music on the album is mainly constructed so that it doesn’t necessarily have clear shapes and angles, it’s diverse enough not to become boring as the locations and soundscapes alter between each song. In fact – the 57 minutes seemed quite short. Almost too short; the songs could have at places dragged more without it causing any damage to the flow. But perhaps the decision not to take a part and plug a Duracell Bunny’s soul into it makes the complete work more intriguing. For a while, on the last track (“Babilonia Cafe”) TMK breaks from the controlled institutional environment and takes it to an East Indian direction and to more defined transonic stimuli. The rhythm speeds up before finally breaking into a catharsis. In a way – the end is in direct connection with the beginning, as it releases the slowly built stressful anticipation of the first track (“Dopecity”).

It’s been a while since I was last greeted with a release that worked as a proxy between me and the depths of my imagination. Of course, some of the albums released this year have been able to touch limited portions of my working brain cells (not a result to undermine) – and some of the albums have allowed me to dig into that imaginary unit even more efficiently (Magyar Posse’s Kings of Time comes to mind) – Thee Maldoror Kollective’s A Clockwork Highway simply flooded my mind with all sorts of pictures, thoughts and feelings to the point where I think I’ve finally gotten the last – most complex – piece of the puzzle out to the open to play with.

Simply: A must.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
December 20th, 2004

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