REVIEW: Nihil est Excellence – “Vilmilieu”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Chain Border

VilmilieuThe French word "milieu" means surroundings or environment. Ukrainian Andrey Kiritchenko's Vilmilieu is a caustic manipulation of his surroundings, a harsh embellishment on his chasteless environment. Another unholy experimentalist in a disturbing underground of vexatious sound tweakers, Kiritchenko operates under the pretense that Nihil est Excellence (or NEX) "processes and plays with environmental sounds revealing the music that these sounds hide within themselves," further stating, "this does not mean it plays with the everyday sounds that usually the listener tends to block out or ignore." However, NEX, though more ambitious and somewhat more effective than others of its ilk, is exactly what the artist name would imply, an excellent demonstration of audio nihilism. Subwoofers beware, Vilmilieu will give it a workout of the damned.

Off the bat, Omro Epsle features catatonic hissing and scratching against Kiritchenko's microphone, which takes a severe beating recording various crunches, wrinkles, warps, clangs, pings and an assorted flotsam of noise hidden in the confines of a seriously bitter ambience, normally loud, like rocket thrusters. Omro Epsle has a Blair Witch feel to it that quickly loses novelty as Vilmilieu agonizes onward with its abysmal neuroses. Ole Ma (Revisited) sounds like a classic horror film score in the beginning, then succumbs to a merciless drubbing on the microphone with jangling, smacking and, in an amusing bit, a digital recording that will remind many of those Mattel handheld football games from the eighties. Water Rustle is a ten minute sordid affair that gives the listener exactly what NEX is looking to portray, more of the same warps that rise in a vicious crescendo (a theme recurred throughout the disc), eventually playing on one's nerves as drips and droplets plink and gurgle here and there, leaving for an angry experience, as if Kiritchenko has found a way to upgrade Chinese water torture. To his credit, though, Water Rustle features a notable soothing synth tone and rock out guitar that rewards the listener for putting up with his tripe.

Pass Nod, Set Nil and Diora are more grueling tests of the listener's mettle, like a shrink's instrument of punishment, nearly Pavlovian, though only the truly deranged will be frothing. Set Nil has a grinding repetition like a generator that refuses to quit, while Diora features more static and blips overpowered by a hedonistic distortion. Only on Dihedral does a moment of hope come to the listener, as a female voice materializes like a voice of reason in a thoroughly reasonless project. She disappears as fast she arrives, as the listener is suddenly punished for his impudence with ear-splitting shrills, that is undeniably deliberate by Kiritchenko. In other words, his respect for his audience is grossly lacking.

The freefalling Amedrs has a plummeting sensation that will guarantee a feeling of taking a nasty trip down a bottomless pit, as the listener begs for death, knowing that the eleven minute terror trip of Uter will prolong his fate. Never mind the welcome synth tone at the four minute mark that is like a comfort for the plunge; it carries on too long and immediately loses substance. Before Kiritchenko has had his final say, he subjects the listener to a thirty-eight second parting shot with Wan Vex (Revisited), a blitz of hyper cuts that has the listener falling to his knees and pointing towards the disc removal button with a whimpering forefinger.

However ingenious Kiritchenko's craft is, he, like his peers, are somewhere else than most in terms of his musicianship. It's as if they all collectively were abandoned in their basements and left to fend with their Spooky Sounds records. Where this fascination of sixty-plus minute ordeals of savagery stemmed from, it is creative only in certain aspects, given that there is a coinciding medium to lend itself to. As for full-length, stand alone recordings, they are irresponsible and likely soundtrack candidates for Hell if there ever were. Slayer, move over.

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