Charming Timur – So Much So Little So Little So Much – Album Review
It’s certainly been a privilege to have been part of the independent music-scene long enough to be able to hear music evolve, refine, change and grow like I’ve been able to with what Santeri Lohi creates in all his various projects, albums, EP’s, singles, videos over the course of these past four years. The way we first discovered his music was in this very band, Charming Timur, way back when we were first starting this whole project up and had no idea if tomorrow was even coming around the corner yet. Low and behold, we’re still standing! We’re moving, yes – but we’re still standing upright and we’re above ground – so too is the musical-mayhem of Lohi and the music of Charming Timur also alive and well. Though…I wasn’t so sure this new album didn’t start itself on somewhat shaky ground…
So Much So Little So Little So Much begins with “Total Chaos,” which over the course of the brief intro that begins the record, sounds instantly impressive. Full of texture and shrouded in mystery…it breaks into what I’d consider almost to be too easy for Lohi as far as the verse is concerned. The guitar-line isn’t really the most creative he’s been there…the vocal-melody almost the same thing I found…almost a little too obvious to the melody-line of the music. Now…many of you would worry at this point…but not me because I’ve often dealt with the music of Charming Timur throughout the years and I know what’s simple will shortly soon after become complex. The chorus becomes massive and a lot more meaty than the verse…the instrumental section around the three-minute mark is a huge highlight early on in the record and faith begins to be restored quickly that Charming Timur will put out another album full of twists and turns you won’t expect. “Total Chaos” is certainly going to catch your attention if it’s playing near you – Charming Timur tends to have that effect on people…but like the songs themselves, I know that the progression of the album as it plays will reveal even stronger material in the songs to follow.
The ideas in “My Last” are completely awesome…and most of this short second-track come out perfectly. If you’re new to the sound of CT then chances are, there will still be some acceptance to be had on your part as you attune yourself to the extremities of sound Lohi reaches for – but for those in-the-know, or fans of the extreme, you’ll love the transitions in “My Last” and just how expertly he pulls this one off. Vocally…a little dissonant as far as matching the tone to what he’s going for in portions of the verse/chorus, but not too far off the mark at all; you can hear the idea clearly and make the melody out with no problem. It’s a powerful chorus…the bass sounds great in “My Last” and the guitars could grind your bones into pure dust with their assault – wicked stuff.
Every time it comes on, I pitch an instant tent in my pants; “Joyous Retribution” might be one of my favourite Charming Timur tracks that I’ve ever heard. Slow, sludge-filled and an all-out brutal-grind…”Joyous Retribution” keeps the vocals suppressed into the music firmly…but MAN are these some powerful chords played to perfection on this one. It’ll remind you of the space-like, heavy atmosphere you can find in the music of Failure…and for me, it doesn’t get much better than discovering new music from that band or anything even close, so this was an awesome find. When Lohi lets the beast truly loose on this one he is straight-up demonic and out-of-control in all the right ways – the ending of “Joyous Retribution” is punishing and as in-your-face as music can be. Awesome right?
Impressively incorporating some pop-tendencies into “My Last” and also onto “The Uplift” – Charming Timur certainly hasn’t gone soft by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a more accessible sound overall. The guitars shine in “The Uplift” and Lohi has found a solid chorus that raises this track up solidly with a smooth-sound nestled in amongst the chaos. Breaking completely as it heads towards the 2.5 minute-mark, he bursts into the familiar CT wall of sound and burns the whole thing down by the end of “The Uplift” before one last rip through the groove of the rhythmic chorus.
“Gone Blaze” has another incredible intro to it and overall sound that reminded me of Failure – and this one is loaded with extra sonic-elements that add layers of dimension to the twisted texture and landscape of this wicked-cut. Lohi has definitely got his thing…there’s no mistaking his work for any other out there truthfully…and depending on which of his modes you dig most, you’ll know which of the CT songs you’ll dig more. “Gone Blaze” would be similar to ordering a platter at a restaurant where you get a little bit of everything…you’ve got low, nearly inaudible growling that adds to the atmosphere, you’ve got the signature winding, warbling, tremolo-filled vocals, and you’ve also got Lohi at full-rip to maximum power through a massive session in screaming it out. So…yeah…LOTS here on this one…and quite honestly, each part packs its own punch and hook, but also works really well as it transitions through…smart stuff Lohi.
But I’ll be damned if “Iron Gardener” isn’t one of the harder songs you’ll take in this year – this thing is a behemoth! I gotta say…this was HUGE. The verse on this song is just incredibly sick…the delivery is perfect on the vocals, the guitars are mammoth in size and menacing in intent. I’m not too sure about the chorus medley of monsters…or at least I wasn’t entirely until “Iron Gardener” reached the fury of its wrath at the song’s end. Once it all went somewhere…and these beastly-sounds served a purpose to get there…it made sense.
What was completely unexpected was the seriously addictive & accessible melody of the verse and beginning of “Long Dead” as it started-up right after all the pounding-sounds of “Iron Gardener.” “Long Dead” starts out & ends- up sounding pretty friendly – but it won’t end up staying that way throughout its middle…progressively darkening as it continues through. It’s a versatile track on one hand…a little tough to follow on the other…it reflects most strongly on the poetic nature of the lyrics and way that Lohi writes in behind the mayhem. Ending on that lighter-hook opens the door for “Tsunami Waves” to begin its massive wave of guitar tones and widespread atmosphere. Much like Mogwai or This Will Destroy You! – the grinding gears of the guitars and the brightness of the explosion of the quiet/loud combination is fucking breathtaking on “Tsunami Waves.” Crashing brilliantly into a serene-ending – this was an extremely impressive song and another highlight in the entire Charming Timur catalogue, never mind this solitary album!
“Bad Choice” would have been on the fence for me. For all of two-minutes + barely, it definitely packs a ton in…but overall terrain felt like it had been explored in the past from CT’s music. Keep in mind, “Bad Choice” comes directly after the sheer brilliance of “Tsunami Waves” – any song would have had it tough in this spot. “Bad Choice” feels a little like what I would have expected pre-listening to the diverse places that Lohi takes the music on this record over the course of its length. After getting the widespread, genre-inclusive attitude on this particular album…just felt like it was a little harder to go back to it for a moment there. The innovative way that “High Horse” plays throughout doesn’t make it any damn easier…I mean, it’s more than twice the length that “Bad Choice” is, so it gets a lot more freedom to change and shift…but overall I think that it’s tracks like “High Horse” that show Lohi’s ability to transform sounds and rip through complex dynamics within a song in new & exciting directions than the rest out there. Powerful, brutal vocals fuel the chorus and lead…gripping intense metal-music grinds through the speakers like a burning car-wreck…we’ve said it many times in regards to the Charming Timur sound – this ain’t music for yo’ momma!
Though potentially…she might dig the hypnotic rhythm and frequencies of “Calibration Drugs” as much as I did, cause this is a pretty damn rad track. Lohi seems to have been experimenting a lot more with instrumentals on this record…he does well with & without vocals for the record – but also to state for the record, the instrumentals on So Much So Little So Little So Much are fucking fantastic!
“Sheer Brilliance” finds a solid balance of the classic Charming Timur sound before the album leads straight into “Waking Souls” at maximum intensity. Seriously storming into the beginning of the track, it breaks to a single grinding guitar, drums & bass for a steady melodic groove before breaking into the vocals. Placed cleverly within the texture & layers of the music as you’ll so often find him, Lohi sounds awesome here…the transition halfway through the cut is expertly achieved and puts a whole second-life into “Waking Souls” as it roars to the end with furiously-paced drumbeats.
It’s always an adventure with this guy. Part of me wonders what the nine or ten song cut of this album might look like…or if the result would somehow feel less heavy by the end. No matter which album I’ve reviewed by CT in the past or even when listening to this one…it always takes some severe downtime after a thoroughly listening-session to really digest and process the ideas that Santeri puts out. I’ve heard the clear-version of his vocals without effects on songs in the past…and that’s a move I might have considered on “Going Insane” rather than the signature trembling-style effects he most often adds to them. I think a low-end heavy, menacing whisper would have potentially fit the music of “Going Insane” a little more…and he’s got a great devilish-growl when he wants to put it out there that would be perfect for this track.
HA! SEE? What did I tell ya? There it is! The natural Lohi-sound appears on “This Miracle.” There are very, very slight effects you’d barely notice that enhance his natural sound…but you SEE? Dude can actually sing if he wants to – and “This Miracle” is 100% proof of that.
Let me tell you a quick story on the theory I have behind the title…I know, I know…I’m running long already…but bear with me…
I was in a band that once wrote a song called “There Is Hope” – and the reason that the title came about was that there was a creative breakthrough in the writing process…a light at the end of a seemingly dark tunnel that let us know we were finally on the right path. I feel similarly towards the title of “This Miracle” – because that’s about as non-typical of a Charming Timur sound as I’ve ever heard one! The results aren’t just good, they’re fucking amazing…and this is an entire sound/style/dimension of his music that he REALLY needs to explore. I think “This Miracle” represents that next creative breakthrough for Lohi and indicates the potential direction that he’ll head into in the future to come. A wicked combination of electro, metal and pop – it’s like the emotional texture of Styrofoam with a little more edge throughout the verse. The chorus, straight-up…might be the strongest melody I’ve ever heard from Lohi and if he wasn’t all the hell way-far-away over in like, Helsinki somewhere instead of right here kicking ass in the studio I’d give him a high-five myself. “This Miracle” is a stunning achievement for Lohi and a real high-point on this album, which has already contained numerous highlights in Charming Timur’s career.
Ending the album there is 100% perfect and absolutely leaves you with a jaw-dropping, memorable impact of the music of Charming Timur. You can also get a copy with the bonus-track “Stress Killer” – which isn’t bad either, but does feel almost like an afterthought when coming after “This Miracle” and the extraordinary heights it reaches. “Stress Killer” does seem like it might have been a part of that same strain of writing that saw the birth of “This Miracle” though…there are some really awesome gears that “Stress Killer” switches into throughout the middle that are like a more gentle version of the territory explored in “This Miracle.” I just would of have probably kept it on the album as a part of the official line-up rather than go bonus there…I think that the only way to really end this record right is with “This Miracle” anchored firmly at the end to really root this one into your mind.
Standout stuff from our main man Santeri. We’ll get you a sample-cut from the So Much So Little So Little So Much album on one of the upcoming episodes of the SBS Podcast with Ryan & Jer – but for now, find out more about Charming Timur from the official page direct: http://charmingtimur.blogspot.ca/
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