Thursday, October 3, 2013

Diamond Terrifier- The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow (2013)

The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow
Zs member Sam Hilmer's second solo album,The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow, takes a few more risks than his debut album, Kill the Self that Wants to Kill Yourself, and it really pays off.  With his Diamond Terrifier project, Hilmer runs his saxophone through various pedals and effects to achieve a wide array of sounds, from synthesizer to grainy drones.  His latest album takes his saxophone's sound even further, exploring various synthetic sounds and even some repetition of industrial tones.  Additionally, this album's songwriting is more unique; while I would still make a comparison of this to Colin Stetson, Hilmer's sound has become more of his own.

The Subtle Body Wears a Shadow opens and closes with computer read text discussing how one should deconstruct themselves and their material wants to achieve spiritual growth.  This is a continuing theme from his first album, but the robotized lyrics really press this theme into the music.  While this may seem almost preachy in theory, in practice Hilmer's music fits this eastern theme.  The Subtle Body is the type of album to be listened to as a whole, and is one that is more suited to listening alone at night rather than with a group of friends before going out.

The four tracks of the The Subtle Body flow well and make the 33 minute album go by quick.  Often it is hard to tell where saxophone loops end and samples begin.  Normally, much of what I hear I would assume to be samples/ synthesizers had I not seen videos of Hilmer's live performances, but after having seen such videos I assume much of what is heard that doesnt sound like a saxophone still is.  One of Hilmer's main strengths is his ability to create saxophone loops that are varied both in sound and style.  No other saxophonist is working with pedals so intricately as Hilmer right now and his creation of such a unique style really shows.

While I found myself slightly disappointed with Colin Stetson's 2013 output, Diamond Terrifier outdid itself with this release and outshines Stetson's work from this year.  The Subtle Body is composed in a way that is very spacial and emotional.  It mixes ambience with drone while remaining unclassifiable.  It is these characteristics that make this album worth listening to and make it one of the most under-appreciated albums of the year.

The album can be streamed in its entirety Here.

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