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Hailing from the state of Missouri, Jute Gyte is the brainchild of Adam Kalmbach.  One-man black metal bands are a dime a dozen, and most offer little outside self-indulgent worship of heroes and influences.  Jute Gyte is different in every sense.  Kalmbach is shockingly prolific, and releases both experimental black metal and ambient/noise albums under the same moniker.  Oviri is his 12th full-length of black metal material in a mere 9 years, with several splits and EPs besides, and perhaps the only thing more impressive than that prodigious output is the level of creativity and fearless mad-scientist experimentation that Jute Gyte has come to exemplify.  Oviri takes everything to the next level, and with Jute Gyte, “everything” is a truly expansive term.

Utilizing custom-built guitars and punishing drum machines, Kalmbach unleashes a microtonal, tempo-twisting assault on the senses.  The guitar lines build in endless, maddening layers of wasp-like buzzing that eventually coalesce to the determined ear into canons and motifs.  The programmed beats are unpredictable, stuttering, and varied.  Kalmbach’s shrieks and growls are powerful and biting, and the extensive use of processed spoken word is also highly evocative.  Other passages utilize loops of field recordings that bring to mind Stockhausen or Le Caine and the bizarre musique concrète experiments they pioneered in the tape era.  

Unprepared listeners will find Jute Gyte’s music to be headache-inducing and formless, a disturbing chaotic mass.  While this visceral impact is certainly an important piece of the experience, what is so impressive about this insanity is the obsessively controlled structures it is built upon.  An example of this adherence to unusual structure is the use of passages which have instruments playing in different tempos alongside each other.  On this album, there are often 4 or 5 tempo layers clattering along simultaneously.  While the effect is disorienting in the extreme, it is not chaos; it merely seems utterly inhuman.  This sort of brain-scrambling effect produces a queer sort of emotional impact, which is likely the intent.

Kalmbach has stated that the purpose of his more recent work is to combine the two sides of his released music, the black metal and the ambient.  This album finally realizes this union successfully.  Opener Democritus Laughing begins with layered guitars that dig into the ears like power drills.  Just when this assault seems most unbearable, the whining drops away and the song instead builds again into a noisy climax of ambience and electronic beats.  Mice Eating Gold begins with heftier grinding and chugging guitars and tempo manipulation, before the bottom falls out and the bass takes over for a wandering, creepy passage.  These ever-present ambient interludes consistently bring moodiness to the fore.  The colossal penultimate track weaves all of the elements of the album together, with atonal guitar walls, angular riffs, and a long mumbled passage of Leonid Andreyev’s literary work Lazarus.

The production of Oviri is a significant step up from previous efforts as well.  Prior albums had a very thin sound, but on this one the bass is noticeably more punchy, the distortion on the low end of the guitars has a pleasing crunch that gives the chugging riffs bite, and even the drum samples are less unbearable.  Ambient passages fill the sonic space and quiet sections are actually perceptibly quieter.  Still, the overall sound of the album is fatiguing, given the content, and the 75-minute duration is absolutely unforgiving.

Despite being perhaps the ultimate definition of a challenging listen, this album is quite simply a masterpiece.  Jute Gyte is the ultimate expression of a project building upon its own paradigms and leaving the standard concepts of what makes music enjoyable behind.

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Wyeth Holman I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and I've been a musician, music fan, and avid writer and reader from an early age. I work in a sheet metal shop during the day, and am currently a graduate student in Biology. I am a huge fan of black metal and death metal, with a particular ear for the progressive and avant-garde.