Perdurance is the most difficult album you’ll hear until Jute Gyte releases its follow up. Toiling for years with little recognition and no label support, the one man black metal/ electronic/ lowercase/ ambient/ etc. band of Adam Kalmbach has produced vast quantities of what is hands down the most forward-thinking and complex music metal has to offer. Whereas his earliest releases were an impressive blend of industrial percussion, noise and jagged black metal, Kalmbach’s album trilogy of Discontinuities, Vast Chains, and Ressentiment introduced the possibilities afforded by a 24-tone microtonal guitar and absolutely floored me with their vast spectrum of dissonances and adventurous songs. But 2015’s Ship of Theseus took his compositions even further, building winging melodies into complex canons that both disgusted and hypnotized me. Jute Gyte will be flat out hated by many and dismissed as too pretentious by others, but those who feel drawn to the enveloping otherness of the music will find it almost continuously rewarding.
Less melodic than Ship of Theseus, Perdurance strives to integrate ever more complex rhythmic techniques into the already dense and often overwhelming blackness of Jute Gyte‘s music. Yet in some ways it’s more accessible than its predecessor, and it certainly feels riffier and more approachable despite the lurch and shuffle of its rhythms. “Like the Woodcutter Sawing his Hands” opens like any track from Ship of Theseus, with a dense web of microtonal guitars trampling over each other in a serialized stampede but lulls quickly. Its cowbell and bass-driven quiet are almost calming despite the menacing rumble of quarter-tones in low register.
Even the album’s most daunting song, “I am in Athens and Pericles is Young,” opens with a surprisingly digestible riff in five, with a piercing electronic whistle replacing what would be a squal of feedback in a more conventional record. Perhaps it’s my increasing familiarity with Jute Gyte, but Perdurance feels more immediate than past works, and in some ways it is; it’s less harmonically dense than Ship of Theseus, and more concise than Vast Chains and its ilk despite the enormously long songs, all of which are over eight minutes long. In addition to the less expansive writing, there’s a lot more downtime on this album, with plenty of atmospheric electronic breaks between the blaring polymetric climaxes – though none are so effective as that in “Grief of New Desire” from Ship of Theseus. And therein lies my greatest complaint against Perdurance – though I like it a lot more from the outset than its predecessor, it seems a bit shallower and turns to big stylistic shifts too often for the shifts themselves to be as dramatic as possible.
Perdurance sounds like any other black metal record from Jute Gyte, and it’s worth noting that for a one man band, and especially a one-man band operating with so many parts going on at once, the records sound great. The guitar tone is nothing special, but it’s heavy enough to really sell the most punishing aspects of Jute Gyte‘s riffs without being so expansive that four or five guitar lines totally drown each other out. That being said, during many of the album’s polytempic segments, it’s nigh on impossible to pick out what percussion is doing what, and a little more clarity when “I am in Athens and Pericles is Young” is running four tempos at once around the 9 minute mark would make the music just that much more mind-boggling.
Truly understanding what’s going on in Jute Gyte‘s songs escapes me – and I imagine anyone else without a strong background in music composition and neurophilosophy – but by bringing these avant-garde ideas into a high-energy metal context, Kalmbach has made them accessible. I certainly don’t listen to Charles Ives, György Ligeti, Edgar Varèse, and Pierre Boulez on a daily basis, but I sure as hell would if they disinterred themselves and joined forces in the universe’s most dysfunctional black metal band. Perdurance is something close to that outre supergroup. Despite being one of the band’s most accessible works in recent memory, Perdurance remains true to the mind-bending and twisted music of albums past while building on the black metal sound. It’s a commendable piece of work from a man whose music is strange, thought-provoking, and above all, completely unique.