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By distorting hard boiled film and classic instrumental music through a dark, overcast lens, Diminished Men refocus their influences into something entirely unique. Their jagged, hard-charging approach evokes images of slit jugulars and accelerated heart rates, all the while swathing you in a blissful claustrophobia. Drawing elements of Link Wray, Morricone's dissonant horror scores, gritty noir and Joe Meek's sickly productions, as well as the provocative imagery of filmmakers like Wim Wenders and Jean-Pierre Melville, synthesizing them into something truly organic and original. |
"Capnomancy" (Jan 2013), their second release on Abduction Records, run by Alan Bishop of the legendary Sun City Girls and the Sublime Frequencies label, is a collection of stark instrumentals, full of high tension energy and infected terror. Cloaked in a supernatural fog and electrical storms, chiaroscuro landscapes read like a sci-fi postcard with a Giallo ransom note attached. One of the last albums to be recorded at his now defunct Aleph Studio, producer Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth, Wolves in the Throne Room, etc.) contributes greatly with his visceral, heavy production, making this album their darkest offering yet.
Their first full length "Names of the Dead" from 2005 introduced the bands cinema obscura ethos. A bizarre series of cassettes 2006-2008 "American Volume Swells" and the more recent 2012 "Six O' Clock Baby" album revealed a raw and unchecked side of the band through live recordings, improvisations and collage. It was their 2009 "Shadow Instrumentals" record on the Abduction label that got the band wider recognition for their creative and distinctive sound. A superbly crafted mosaic of speakeasy hallucinations and haunted geography, full of lush production and ambitious arrangements. Besides the Italian western overtones, Khorshid Egyptian guitar passages, murder-blues drama and flipped out electronic space psych, are perhaps the best surf inspired tracks in years. A shape-shifting set of music, opening yet another wormhole to the groups varied influences.
Formed in 2005 by guitarist Steve Schmitt and drummer Dave Abramson, Diminished Men are an integral part of Seattle's unique and prolific underground music scene. Abramson, also a member of Master Musicians of Bukkake, has done time in Climax Golden Twins and has collaborated with Secret Chiefs 3, Eyvind Kang, Six Organs of Admittance, Grails, etc. Multi-instrumentalist Simon Henneman has released two solo records and plays guitar in the free jazz duo WA with iconic Northwest drummer Gregg Keplinger.
CAPNOMANCY LP (Abduction 2013):
INFEKTION MAGAZINE- Mónia Camacho (Orva, Portugal)
"Capnomancy", it is a last work of the " Diminished men ", a worrying album. It opens with " Oblong Trance " where the distressing breathing gives a light sensation of claustrophobia; the music evolves freeing the listener of this register. The guitars, mighty, come crying and the music grows to good rhythm. The melody repeats and the end of the belt brings very much more metal. " Black Vapor " has a lot of swing and the percussion is more shown up. Be a certain taste " western " and the melody (what it contains, in some form, minimalismo whose counterpoint is the emotion) it happens again again even to a "pathos". He is still himself " Kapnos Escape " with a more enigmatic sonority and with more chaos. The melody is less obvious and everything is more radical. " Hoarding Light " is the only band with voice; voice for what at this moment we already did not expect (and the surprise is good). It begins with gentleness. It has a tone a lot of "blues" with carloads of rhythm and swinging; the determined height the guitars distort and the sounds go out in saturation. It finishes limpid, giving place to " Tacombover ", band with a jazzier influence. At some moments we concentrate only on the beat and the rhythm dominates; The wind instrument gives some heat to the subject. The next music gives name to the album; the synthesizers grow and there is a cinematographic futurist environment densified by the siren that is heard in bottom. The guitar is maintained in style "bluesy". Noteworthy is, also, " Expulsion " that gives a present to us with a small ground of battery; it is a quick subject in the sonority. The album has an approach that brings some innovation. The minimalismo, which appears here and there, gives him a certain charisma. It is an album in which the good taste of the creators comes to from above and is obvious.
PVDG's STUDIO EKZ- Paul Van de Gehuchte (Netherlands)
What would 2013 Capnomancy musical area things have in store? Inter alia, the new long player of Diminished one. ' ' Is a problem and rather bizarre Capnomancy unique. The trio consisting of guitarist Steve Schmitt, drummer Dave Abramson and multi-instrumentalist Simon Henneman brings the soundtrack of an unreleased film. Some terms that describe the vehicle still are exotic, claustrophobic, awesome, bloody and slightly disturbed. The music sounds both recognisable as unworldly. Predominantly instrumental know the trio a fascinating whole. Fevered, Fitful, exciting tracks that wondrous scenes calls from yesteryear or future landscapes portray. The plate begins intriguing with ' Oblong Trance '. Gasping for breath, screeching guitars, a character a haunting melody, the scare is there effective immediately. ' Black Vapor ' conjures up the 1950s including Latin American rhythms and forth without the ghostly theme of opener ' Oblong Trance ' to lose sight of. The hyper-nervous, jumpy ' Kapnos Escape ' move that trend by. Fear is the core thought, also in the beautiful, by guest vocalist Sara Johanne reprised ' Hoarding Light '. Disturbing factor once again the strong distorted guitar sounds and saxophone. That last instrument towers above the rest in the sweet, pungent ' Tacombover '. In the title song the wind cries through the cracks, the wooden floor creaks and the shrouded in shadows sneaks along the walls of the House spirit just by candles lit rooms. '' Expulsion ' floats the tension at the top with a disintegrating drummer Animal (Dr. Teeth And The Electric Mayhem) resolution-wise the pans of the roof plays. Diminished Men, an excellent band. A plume also for producer Randall Dunn. Capnomancy: ecstasy and chills ' ' spirit assured.
DES CENDRES A LA CAVE (France)
Close eyes, it is an order! To locate the thing well, begin by drawing a fictitious segment between psychotropic frenzies stuck by the trilogy of the Totem of Master Musicians Of Bukkake then ravings kitsches and morriconiennes of last Grails in date, Deep Politics, and you will be there. Where? We do not know exactly, but here, it is sure. Add an immoderate love to all that for the scores of the giallos of nice epoch, for science fiction also and for the jazz (that is free or not) and should be enough to increase tenfold your confusion. Finally, to try to be completely full, it is also necessary to mention some solos degenerated in twenty-five fingers which intersperse ends of pieces and the avant-garde arid passages which brush chaos. Here said just like that, they get closer to a honest description of the amalgam played on Capnomancy. Honest but not exhaustive. They would not know how to aspire to the being in front of such a disc. Because they could also speak about Caribbean music, they would still be in the right. Useless to make a great effort to circumscribe whatever it is, the disc will overflow anyhow.
An exercise in style? It is not at all. There is very too much talent behind Diminished Men (that is the meeting of Steve Schmitt, Dave Abramson and Simon Henneman) to support respectable remote superficiality. Pieces so facetious, roguish and broken are, remain no less than true pieces in finely worked architecture and in well anchored bones there. It was needed not to lose the listeners along the way, displayed in numerous changes of gear ratios, directions and styles of one second on other one and most often, without shouting railway station. Under the disintegrated and broken up paces, Capnomancy is held and shows a real unit. However, to notice song titles in turn, they would definitely be in trouble to find any common point between them. They cross, for instance, the experimentation hopping mad of Kapnos Escape, an unstable piece which has a quick look of supported in the noise in what it has more free, in the blues version waltzes sad and reggae made tired at the end of the end of the roll of Hoarding Light, the only piece sung by the album, which recalls rather the complaints of Koko Taylor when it illustrated certain stages, out of necessity in freeheel, with the Lynchienne cheval glass.
And it is just like that during these seven titles: barely as it is had the time to become acclimated to the one that the following unseats. Not the time to glue together the slightest tab, then they dangle them all and will hold those who will be able. Capnomancy takes everything over and dares everything, including the dark taste which expresses itself again and again and strikes deliciously. That is the big success of Diminished Men, it is its consummate art to damage borders and to blow up our certainties and our presentations. They spoke improper, but whom are they to speak about it? It is definitely this type of perpetual questions that this type of album encourages not to settle any more. Extreme and filled, the group denies itself anything but refuses to choose between the high-flown and elegance, inject of the muscle and nerve in fat and fat in delicacy, crush his engravings finely worked and recuperate them of black or multicoloured felt when at other instants, it leaves its ways of nasty rascal and expresses all its delicacy in an arrangement in such fragile point which he threatens to crumble away and to disappear in the slightest air current. At the end of listening, they are not very sure any more Don't mention it. Of what they like or of what they do not like. Nor from his tastes.
It is definitely for it that they are surprised at the risk of finding Capnomancy in the lines of the catalogue of Abudction Records, quality-label « founded in on 1993  best known for releasing music and video by Sun City Chorus girls » but also " works by other adventurous artists ". Adventuresome, Diminished Men does not lack the being and it is definitely to the protecting nebula of Alan Bishop that he had to to belong. Very as they will not be surprised to find B.R.A.D. and Milky Burgess, are two Master Musicians Of Bukkake, among the guests of the trio. And even Randall Dunn in production. That they are broken or not in unlikely and staggering miscellany to which all these names, irremediably, bring back, you should not hesitate to dive into Capnomancy which will receive in any case everybody, lost sheep as repeat customers, curious or overdemanding ears and those who are him less, those who search originality or those who are, a bit distracted there a bit incidentally. There is enough variety in here so that everybody can find there to like and to detest. A way as other one to say that this disc should leave nobody uninterested and will cause something out of necessity. Behind the side iconoclast, they find a real substance which brings wealth and specific gravity. Just like the death rattle which opens the album, about that we do not know too much if it is about a demonstration of pleasure or pain, Capnomancy hesitates permanently between blackness and brightness, song of ball and pointed experimentation, hideousness and beauty. And if they are sure of nothing in its listening, they really know two things: it is anything but it is also absolutely brilliant.
HARDSOUNDS -Francesco Antonio Fragomeni (Italy)
Bluish light, subdued colors, sense of belonging and not a heat given off by the fumes of alcohol and a far-off saxophone. We are in the 1950s and in a local lost the details of the ritual created at the center of the stage. Then you discover that you are at the center of this story, this film noir-tinged yellow and full of doubts and puzzles. A soundtrack that surrounds you and makes you drown in its elusive murky waters. It would take really a film to pair with ' Capnomancy ', where the abyss looks one step away, they watch everything from a passive perspective protagonism. As if all the musicians, the audience in the Hall-expected only to see you fall, while their faces are becoming more distant and undefined. Minimal, Jazz night and decayed (nothing but decaying!): polished in its dangling vein crowds, close to runorismo but with flashes of violet as bruises that do not now remember the cause. Of the 35 Caliber aimed at the noise and much more mysterious. It's no coincidence behind the console there's Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Earth and others). Hard love, certainly not a cd to listen to light-heartedly on Sunset Avenue in midsummer.
MUSIKREVIEWS.DE -Andreas Schiffmann (Germany)
Repeatedly referenced by this project, which comes out on the label of Alan Bishop of the SUN CITY GIRLS,. In view of his second album to great cinema, especially Italian Giallo or artistic movies of Wenders to Morricone That "Capnomancy" this claim is actually just and yet not only functions as a soundtrack disc is remarkable.
"Tacombover" about any post-rock band would be an ornament, though it has nothing to do with style. Schleicher is dominated by the dark wood fan and its constant voltage curve can DIMINISHED MEN but stop abruptly, instead of smooth predictable. "Oblong trance" entangled doom rock with the flair comical U.S. Instrumental Mucke from the fifties, the latter is the more even the following "Black Vapor" (echo and flanger en masse), which comes surprisingly in waltz-stroke and actually an unexpected spaghetti Western-turn takes.
"Kapnos Escape" kidnapped afterwards in a partly noisigen jungle and scars, not least because of the very "acoustic" duct of the rhythm section (bass, snare and cymbals predominate) and thanks Skeriks saxophone jazz terrain, which is also true of the title track. "Hoarding Light" then goes through as a film noir femme fatale Sara Johanne on the microphone, and the last piece of "Expulsion" even flirts with surf rock and early horror instrumentals: very interesting, very colorful, very well.
CONCLUSION: In the era of highly engineered instrument Metal showcase one-and trantütigem Riffmauerbau of Babel DIMINISHED MEN have had with their cinematic, some concrete substance to be highly original and it even consistently heard with pleasure, without one would gain the impression that the makers apologized unimaginative with alleged intellectualism. The other fields of activity of the parties (MASTER MUSICIANS OF BUKKAKE, EARTH, GARAGE A TROIS) also serve to classify this cool disc.
SHADOW INSTRUMENTALS LP (Abduction, 2009):
**If current instrumental music was always as majestic and as compelling as this, I'd hang up my Retro-Italian Soundtrack collector's boots for good. What we have here is the first definitive document from Seattle's Diminished Men. From the explosive drum rolls of the opening track, the only cover on the record, "L'appel du Vere", from Roman Polanski's "The Tenant" (composed by Phillipe Sarde) to the darkly exotic finale "A Housewife's Dram", this record is a superbly crafted mosaic of whip-cracking vengeance, speakeasy hallucinations, and haunted geography. Besides the Italian western overtones, carnivalesque freak show backdrops, Khorshid Egyptian guitar passages, and flipped-out electronic space psych, are perhaps the best surf-inspired tracks I've heard in years. A thick damp fog must have been rolling in from the creek behind Randall Dunn's West Seattle studio when these recordings were made. Its spine-chilling how Dunn managed to make this record sound like the ultimate mid-60's Surf-Vampire-Western revival soundtrack. Elements of Joe Meek's best Moontrekkers productions cross with a dash of Badalamentian murder blues drama setting the stage for Steve Schmitt's cobra-twilight guitar work and Dave Abramson's drum kit outlaw splatter to leave their indelible stains across this 41-minute epic journey."
-ALAN BISHOP (Sun City Girls, Sublime Frequencies)
Imagine the encounter between the universe of the original bands of Angelo Badalamenti and of Ennio Morricone, surfing music, the jazz and the psychedelic music. If I say you that what's more, their last disc, "instrumental shadow", is produced by Randall Dunn (that already did its proofs with Sun City Girls, Secret Chiefs 3, Earth, Jesse Sykes, Suno) )), Eyvind Kang. ..). Does Ca put you the water to the not mouth? And you have reason for this "instrumental shadow" is a small wonder! This American quartet (guitar, low, battery, saxophone), coming from the scene of Seattle, did not realize beforehand that a single disc, "names of the dead", put to leaves the two volumes of the "american volume swells", go out only in cassette. Completely instrumental, "instrumental shadow" is a timeless, epic album and to the force évocatrice undisputable. To the listens of this disc, one imagines oneself turn to turn in the "red room" of Twin Peaks, or then to wander to horse in the middle of the Far West. Thanks to of superb arrangements, the Diminished Men have therefore shorn a disc to the delectable film mood. Besides, the disc opens by a return of the theme of the film "the tenant" of Novel Polanski, "the glass call" (composed by Sardinian Phillipe). What's more already quoted artists, one thinks equally sometimes to Secret Chiefs 3 in its moments the more "morriconiens". They have besides turned with the latter as well as with the Master Musicians Of Bukkake (of which I strongly counsel you their last album "totem 1", gone out in the spring last).
ALTERNATIVE SOUND -France
I usually refuse to listen to music without lyrics made after 1976, but producer Randall Dunn (who's worked with Sun City Girls, Sunn O))), Earth, etc.) made this album sound like it was recorded in a time vacuum. It falls under some tangential, unclassifiable genre that combines surf rock, space psych, weird Egyptian modal shit, and music that ghosts like. The only bad part is that they only made 500 vinyl copies, so you better figure out how to get it quickly or you won't be able to show your limp-wristed post-rock buds why Mogwai is for toddlers.
-Dilbert Mugabe, VICE MAGAZINE
Diminished Men are grand theater, psychedelic, spaghetti-eastern music, presented under the tonalities of surf rock. Explodo-free jazz-groove drumming, deceivingly insane electric guitar, and swanky sax from your wildest Reeperbahn dreams.
-Jared Nelson, NORTHWEST MUSIC BLOG
I was underwhelmed on my first two listens to the Diminished Men LP on Abduction but on my third it's really getting somewhere. Sure, this Seattle band plays a sort of avant MOR, soundtracky modern-day surf instrumentalism that would seem polite enough to go down just fine as bumpers to just about any arts & entertainment reporting on your actual local NPR station, but, because their overall presentation is contained and controlled and stays well within the bounds of Randall Dunn's high-quality production aura, it's only now that I'm realizing that they play these themes rather ferociously, and that the stuff in between the themes is actually pretty out there.
-BLASTITUDE , Chicago
Diminished Men's new album, Shadow Instrumentals (Abduction Records), partially draws on the fantastical Italian horror-flick genre known as giallo for sonic inspiration. The band's jagged, hard-charging, reverbed riffing evokes images of slit jugulars and accelerated heart rates, all the while swathing you in a velvety claustrophobia. If soundtrack maestro Ennio Morricone became possessed by guitarists Duane Eddy and Cliff Richard, and then the three cut a record in a Roma mansion spattered with ectoplasm, it would sound like the new Diminished Men opus.
-Dave Segal, THE STRANGER, Seattle