Some might say that the difference between Minimalism and monotony is slight. Aluk Tolodo offers another opportunity for that debate. More or less one continuous piece, the first two tracks on Finsternis, repeat a slight but tight rhythm, a lo-fi buzzsaw guitar rising and falling in the mix. Essentially there is no difference between “Premier Contact” and “Deuxieme Contact.” So are they to be considered as a modal signature explored for all its worth, or are they sludge taken to its logical, static conclusion?
Those songs make up an imaginary Side A, as listed in the liner notes. Side B kicks off with “Totalite,” in which low-level noise competes with ambient scrapes and rusty creaks, leading to truly inspired harsh guitar, its nods to Krautrock expansiveness compelling. Also seemingly of a piece, the final two tracks, “Troisieme Contact” and “Quatrieme Contact,” build off all that has come before, and are noisy, tribal, minimal in an emotional way that the openers were not.
As a trio, Aluk Tolodo create a lot of open space for themselves and are not uncomfortable with silence. Finsternis. Still, dissonance and dark majesty are the goals here; their minimalist approach does get bogged down in its own cul-de-sac on more than one occasion, but as in the best black metal, mistakes in vision can always be redeemed by the next riff.