Degradation by Rắn Cạp Đuôi

Rắn Cạp Đuôi | Degradation
Flaming Pines (EP/DL)

On June 26, 2019, the now trio Rắn Cạp Đuôi (Phạm Thế Vũ, Đỗ Tấn Sĩ, and Zach Sch) released Degradation. The latest of a discography spanning seven years, the collective has come a long way from both their 2012 maiden solo release, and their 2014 first proper album – alongside Colton Cox, Bjorn Bols and Israel Rowland – as part of the ‘overseas’ collective. In 2015 the scope of works and membership led to the formation of the collective and Trần Duy Hưng and Gavin Pilisi joined as long term members of the collective in 2016. Lý Hà Trang, Đỗ Hoàng Tuấn Anh, Bjorn Bols, Colton Cox, Josie Turnbull, and Trần Duy Hưng comprise the additional collaborators on this watery-electro-noise triptych.

The self-projected/ascribed theme here is the monsoon season of Vietnam (generally September through November). Which, when coupled with the artists’ aquaphobia – specifically, the fear of drowning – make for a traumatic discordant relationship with the weather. Tepid abstractions of atonality and sustained noise repetitions fill the listeners’ ears throughout the 3-track journey.  The sonic elements range from ethereal gothic chanting, blended with modular loops and bending frequencies, as the collective leads listeners from breaking surf to insectoid landscape to plunging terror (ad-lib from the release description).

As in any horror-genre piece, the operative aspect/angle is suspense. Over the length of the first two tracks – a little over 15 minutes (Ikkikki, 10:13 & Ripples, 5:01 respectively), tension rises steadily. What at first is ocean shore becomes tropical jungle. Higher frequencies mingle with deeper pulses. There is an intense building upon minimalist tones.

When the listening experience turns over to the titular track 3, there is a full-on deluge of an emotive sub-bass rhythmically ripping. This track softly punishes the audience into a clairvoyant psychological empathy for those at the mercy of nature’s aquatic forces. The haunting at this point is manifest. The listener is subject to a nine-minute cathartic crescendo – and it is freaking sweet! It never seemed possible to find it pleasant to experience degradation but this collective supplicates the listener to do just that. It works. By the end of the e.p., ones ears – having been saturated with droning, glitching ambiences – tingle in synaptic felicity.


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