The Inexistence cassette from Uno Actu that came through here last year introduced me to the strangest of all of the bands associated with the bizarre French Canadian black metal sect surrounding the Tour De Garde label. Finding anything else from Uno Actu had been a no-go up until just recently, when I found out that French black metal label Infernal Kommando had released a cd-r reissue of the very first Uno Actu demo through their experimental side-label Symbolic Productions, a ten-track disc that first came out back in 2003, reissued here with two previously unavailable tracks, and containing even stranger sounds than I had been expecting. The strange percussive sounds and pitch-black subterranean atmosphere of the tape is again found here, but there's also a lot of oddball black metal vocalization, warped melodic elements, and keyboards that sometimes makes this sound like a stripped-down, necro Za Frumi.
The disc opens with the bizarre black-pit ambience of "De L'Incree", a rumbling, groaning mass of creepy kosmiche synth and random percussive clatter n' thunder from someone playing tympani and cymbals, while snarling black metal vocals rant and drool over top. But then the album's most surprising moment appears in the second track, "Chute Astrale". The track opens with a blurr of blown-out guitar screech that suggests that the band is about to blast off into some super distorted black metal, but this dissipates almost immediately as a male voice enters with a drunken liturgical chant, and then suddenly it turns into an actual song, with blurry, super-distorted guitars and xylophones (!) coming together and playing a demented, slightly out-of-tune melody that's nonetheless very pretty and catchy, almost sounding like something you'd hear on a Mercury Rev album but filtered through Uno Actu's bizarre blackened murkiness, and surrounded by snarling demonic vocals, clattery percussion and thunderous tympani-like rumbles. It's short but super catchy, a twisted bit of blackened indie-pop melody surfacing from a black pit of amp noise and tape hiss.
For the rest of the disc, we come across more fragmented bits of melody here and there, but these are scattered among more abstract and droning pieces of blackened improvisation. There's bellowing black ambience and atonal piano that drifts across the abyssal emptiness of "Machen", and the sickening treble-loaded black metal riffing and minimal piano throb of the title track, where skeletal low-fi BM is littered across a backdrop of grimy old-school industrial atmosphere. More of these industrial textures show up in "Corps Confundis", with creepy acoustic folk and dour spoken word (in French, bien entendu) and gasping goblin voices lurking in the background, joined by a pulsating industrial beat that enter after a minute along with distorted minor key guitars, turning this into a lurching blat of psychedelic dirge with wailing acid leads searing the surface.
"Grimoires Chtoniens" is a low-fi, almost kraut-rock informed doomdirge, with super fuzzed out, washed-out blackened guitars hovering over what sound like tambourines and marching snares, a plodding rhythmic percussive jam smeared with gargling black metal vocals and everything covered in cobwebs of speaker fuzz and echo, like Abruptum meets Silvester Anfang. "Ce Monde N'eriste Pas" opens with waves of heavy feedback that become more and more distorted, slowly growing in volume and density as more layers of aural grit and white noise appear, heavy blasts of distortion buffeting the speakers, the sound turning into a dense cloud of ominous guitar feedback and noise churning out blackened drones. The next track is much quieter, with funereal organ tones drifting over rumbling black ambience and minimal synths, a simple ominous melody that repeats over and over, evoking total sorrow and hopelessness, the dark ambience interrupted only by distant clattering sounds. And the final track "De La Terreur" returns to more black metal-esque territory, but still completely abstract and strange, of course; a trebly evil minor-key melody played on something that almost sounds like a super distorted and processed harpsichord, while immense kettledrums rumble in the background and screeching, snarling blackened vocals swoop overhead.
These early recordings from Uno Actu reveal a more eclectic side that wasn't as apparent in the thick black curtains of ambient noise and deformed black metal riffing on their Inexistence cassette. Still totally mysterious and dreamlike and steeped in weird evil atmosphere, though, and if you're a fan of their other releases, this is equally out-there, a series of twisted necro-improv ambient death-rituals whose clostest reference points are Emit and Abruptum at their most atmopsheric and abstract.
The disc is packaged in a standard jewel case with a simple insert cover, with light red paint on the actual face of the disc.