The Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Thiago Deseant’s new album is as puzzling as the chosen nickname Phantoms vs Fire. Released on the 28th of February, Modern Monster I & II (Blackjack Illuminist Records) is a tuneful epiphany that guns for uncommon places and flexible protocols: its conjugations are never linear and utterly absorbing.
An abundant journey starting with My Voice is a Sword, an ancestral opening tremblingly evoked from oriental-sounding main lines, straightforwardly delivering esoteric furore. Thiago’s grand uniqueness consists in his atmospheric build-ups constantly circling around upsetting changes of directions.
You can tell his inspiration goes far, dictated by a copious knowledge of music and uncontrovertibly pure talent: The ghost-eater winks at the mystical tenebrosity of Antonella Ruggiero’s Pitagora, whereas I Am In Blood Stepped In So Far reversed ambient calls up the latest Sigur Ros’ Liminal project, obscurely reflecting Nils Frahm and Mogwai’s post-rock contributions.
However, there is something utterly unique about Phantoms vs Fire’s music: the cobwebs of Thiago’s modus operandi are an haunted house that feels as incredibly captivating as a suite. So that the biggest achievement of this project becomes smashing together parts of revelatory, goosebumps-inducing mosaic tiles.
In this surprising asset, Fair is foul and foul is fair is knotted in the self-explained chiasmus of the title, the tune is anchored to a thrilling, soul-involving mindbreak of philharmonic splendor, Necronomicon burrows inside its contemplative tune, to bring to the light meticulous arrangements, before they are hammed up with electronic twists, overpowering the potentiality of an already excellent song.
It is undeniable that it’s not a party record, or an immediate hook, but its eccentricity never grinds you off: Full of scorpions in my mind is an orgy of synthesizers digging into hushed oddities and recherché songwriting systems, an emotional zigzag similar to Soldier. This track has it off with uplifting, crescendo-oriented apotheosis of a song spiraling around its bone structure, a dog elegantly chasing its tail in gyration of enchantment
The law is speculative, intricate strata of ancient-sounding gems, recalling something lost in the entrails of humanity. A bit punk, a bit gothic, a bit something else never heard before. It is a record grasping at major resources to settle and to shock, never graying out by following a line of thought that the listener could have imagined
There are times in which the hostile dribbling of electronic sounds, unfriendly tapping the curdled, spasmodic, yet indispensable sound on your eardrum becomes so concentric to stroke the elegiac power of a ritual. The dna of this album escapes feckless presages, stays unconfined in leitmotifs of beauty and terror. There is a genius ratiocination behind this ghastly chaos: tabs are quintessential of a profound talent (Pharaoh).
The nameless city maintains such a momentum, with an attitude that is highly excited by eagerness after the compulsive, cloak-and-danger soundscapes. A true agog moving along orchestral, computerized otherworld. Overall, Thiago’s intuitions hunt up realms much beloved to Frank Bretschneider, aseptically resonating with groups like Alva Noto or Mika Vainio’s visions.
The experimental and the ultra ethereal issue forth to molt the project skin: they pair up toward an imprinting of eye-opening sonic bombshells. The shape-shifting vanguard meets tunes like Tulpa, with its tenure being a tribal honk infested with spectral reverberations and We monsters, infused with psychedelic tendrils of helicopter-like echoing. Warning sign out there: if you want to enjoy this record, make sure you get lost in it.