FOUDRE! – Kami (Gizeh, 2018)

Before the more rigorous application of science, for millenia humans used (and indeed still use in some cases) religion to explain certain natural phenomena. In a time when wind could not be explained as the movement of air from high to low pressure regions, it was the will of the god of the wind. Without an understanding of the Earth’s rotation, the god of the Sun would ensure its rise and fall each day. And so on. The elements were tempered and commanded by a god or gods, and so the universe worked, and so we were subservient to them.

As a result, always with religion there is threat: threat of violence, threat of retribution, punishments for noncompliance and insufficient prayer. That is what FOUDRE! command through Kami, a ceaseless feeling of imminent concern and fear lingering around every corner, a world bent to the whims of emotionally petty overlords. This is elucidated right from the beginning in “Raijin”, the Shinto God of Thunder, whose stormy power rumbles in the mid-distance, the air filled with a precursory precipitation and careful bluster in these tentative moments before it passes overhead.

We take care not to draw his attention as alien synth croonings bend in this brooding and claustrophobic air, oppressive and prodding as it searches for any reason to unleash its fury. The tension dissipates slowly as we pass through into “Tsukuyomi”, the Moon God. Those idiosyncratic molten synths beam through unravelling percussive instrumentation as we spin the clouds away, though the watchful Moon sees all nocturnal affairs underneath its baleful face. There is judgement here too, even bathed in her pale light, thoughts crumbling into calamitous and chugging Hecker drones that grumble and boil with scarcely restrained malevolence before the Dawn God arrives to burn away the history of the night’s proclivities.

“Ame-no-Uzume” spills over with fractal arpeggiations, crystalline electronica humming with a somewhat chaotic energy, as though even this golden hour is no guarantee without a struggle. The menace of the synth clings to the backfield, a wandering darkness never sated, ready to bury the unfaithful in misfortune like some hateful spirit. The dawn still comes, as it always will, and things simmer into the transient quiescence of brief “Fujin”. Guitars noodle diffusely here, the music hovering and weaving to the Wind God’s arm, so tantalisingly close yet maddeningly sight unseen in its tireless motions.

The winds carry us to him, the closer: “Hachiman”. The God of War. Here is the fight, the discord, the brimming hatred and rage as immutable in the human psyche as the sky or the ocean is to the Earth, elemental in its own way. The blunted guitars crash into an extended sequence of senseless and exaggerated aggression, a brutal landscape of twisted and warped textures contorted into demented dimensions. Tortured screams tear through the onslaught, personifying and shaping the sound into guttural human ugliness: ever wondered why we style the gods after our own image?

There can be no balance when those who would have power over us would use that against us, to threaten their way in to control over us. Do you know how we defeated the gods, beat them at their own game and claimed that they would not have power over us anymore? We turned our backs on them and rationalised our way forwards. We have overhauled and overthrown gods in our time, and it’s looking like we, societally, will have to do the same again now to some lowly men.