Self Spiller – Worms In The Keys (2012) – This avant-garde metal project is composed of members from: Agalloch, Stagnant Waters, Formloff, Age Of Silence, Winds, Sigh, Breathilizor and more… many more. Being that this is just the kind of stuff that is up my alley, it’s not surprising that I found it interesting. Despite the fact that more than ten musicians contributed to all of this, it’s actually not a very long album and only weighs in at close to forty minutes.
Now we already know that Agalloch and Sculptured are rather inventive acts, but throw that in with members of Sigh (Mirai and Dr. Mikannibal respectively) as well as Andy Winter from Age Of Silence and Winds, and you’ve got some real weird shit going on here. The object of this record literally must have been to make one of the most experimental shitstorms known to mankind and they certainly achieved just that with this oddly unique performance.
There’s not much to “The Event 1:07” but it opens thing up for the massive conflagration that is “Folds Of Skin To Lay 7:38,” which includes everything from proggy leads, to well-meant clean vocals and distorted cats. Yes, I said cats. Sometimes even animals become part of the spectrum of sound as this record shows.
Then things go into passionate saxophone with tribal drumming, later bringing on a folk feeling. Yes folks, this is THAT kind of album. As we continue on, it just gets weirder. I think I’m hearing something bubble now in the background, just behind the guitars. Then harsh vocals and robot whizzings come into play. We’re still on the same song, by the way – this is all the same song.
Apparently there’s something wrong with my version of “Like Three Asps” (gives you something to look forward to with the real thing) so we’ll have to skip that, but when we move to “Therefore I Worship 7:24” a much harsher vocal comes into play as all sorts of keyboard funny business later ensues. The whole track just stops for a second to allow what sounds like music from an eighties PC, as guitar comes into play and then gets shafted for a ghostly little instrumental. I’m hearing a lot of that Sigh influence now, as it shifts over to what sounds like a sort of mystical dance piece. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
“Rot On Root 4:41” starts out with an electrified Asian folk piece (but much of the album contains these things) as a sort of circus music comes in with clean vocals and a continued industrial feeling. Then the whole thing stops for chiptunes and sounds like the sort of synth folk I would hear in a video game. “I Spit In The Stomach Of Zo 3:55” seems to want to play with the broken record of dubstep, but it brings along a bag of kittens and some guitar as well.
Female vocals come into the mix, as keyboard atmospheres decorate an even harsher vocal approach as well as some more clean vocals. The record seems to use harsh and clean in a sort of duet fashion, so get used to that. There’s also a lot of electronic influence on the disc, so get used to that as well. I’m seriously hearing some King Crimson right at the start of “Skite 4:12” which soon delves back into dub-step influenced and dancey landscapes. Without going on any further (and I’m not) you can pretty much get the idea as to what your listening experience will entail with Worms In The Keys.
It’s by far one of the weirdest albums I’ve ever heard and sounds exactly just like you’d expect from all the musicians involved. But I’m not going to hold up a “perfect” score card for this recording, nor will I even hold up a “great” score card.
Instead, I feel that the work here is solid, but could congeal a little better. It feels all over the place a little more than it should and I’d like to hear this supergroup do a little more than just keyboards, electronics and experimental weirdness. I’m not really hearing any heaviness in terms of guitars or drums and I feel that these missing links are what keeps the album from having any real punch.
Though I like it and would recommend it, it very much sounds like a debut which will perhaps show better potential the next time around. All of the musicians here have truly done a proficient job, but there’s still work to be done in getting this Frankenstein’s monster to behave properly. I feel that it’s merely terrorizing the villagers and running completely amok, which doesn’t seem to be the goal.
(8 Tracks, 36:00)
To stream Self Spiller, click the album cover above.