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Live From Japan

death’s dynamic shroud


Liam Murphy

September 20, 2019

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

One does not often picture a live performance when faced with a work or indeed an artist that works heavily…

One does not often picture a live performance when faced with a work or indeed an artist that works heavily within concepts. Moreover, concepts that deal directly with subjects such as artificiality and the non-physical. But, with releases prior, deaths dynamic shroud have evidently sought to surprise and stun. Whether it be their landmark work I’ll Try Living Like This, or the reality-shattering album CLASSROOM SEXXTAPE (listencorp review here). In their latest outing, DDS compile a selection of performances from a tour of Japan in 2018. The album features tracks from various albums, as well as previously unreleased material.

We join death’s dynamic shroud amidst a fray of slowed sound in TWICE!. Tinny notes play like screeching alarm bells. The vocals at first, are stretched incomprehensibly, merely melodic parts of the background noise. The chord sequence circles round in a beautifully quaint melodic pattern. A stretched bass drum slams into us. The voice achieves prominence in the mix. It’s almost inhuman form stretched, with each bass hit propping it up. When the bass falls out it seems to gloop like chewing gum. The precise timings of the voice invite us to have a myriad of reactions. Parts are somewhat comical as we hear the computer aided machine struggle to reach the next note, and falter slightly in between. Some moments are a little tragic, it feels as if this entity is being pulled to their limit, yet continues to sing beautifully. Euphoric strings push onward, adding a humane element to this cosmological slow dance.

We fall into NEONアーキテクチャ (パート2). More atmospheric melodies dazzle the listener, stuttering slightly before launching into a structured refrain. One repeating, polyphonic motif seems to lead the tumult of sound behind it. Euphoric noise screams towards us at the beginning of every repetition. death’s dynamic shroud set a scene of incomparable size and magnitude at the very start of the live album.

CD Player II shatters this sublime atmosphere somewhat. A short, unrhythmic fragment slips out; sporadically falling into an echoed chamber, but most of the time it’s dead centre, standing confidently before the listener. It suddenly pitches down, transforming a sample that was vibrant and sporadic into a sultry, distorted ballad. The sample is submerged within delayed copies of itself.

Nothing Like This World is brief. But within it we hear a tremendous, world-building force through shatters of its former whole. A female voice repeats an emotive sound. We hear a young vocal part accompanied by bells and remnants of a piano melody. One can only imagine the catharsis of what is missing, as the hurried glimpses death’s dynamic shroud permit us to see are beautiful and filled with longing. 

家へ帰ろう, again another song starts as if we’ve burst in on the two members of the act doing something sonically they shouldn’t. Like mischievous children spreading their dinner out across the new carpet, the two of them continue to clip and transpose as they see fit, unabashed by the live audience looking onward. They swiftly fall into a rhythm. A beautiful Japanese ballad supported by sometimes strange, alien sound effects and percussion. The bass elements of the current sample are extracted, leaving tinny melodies for a moment. The lower parts come surfing back in and we are treated once again to a thoughtful, emotive sample.

Butterflies take us back into the endless corridors of euphoria. With a menacing bass drum snaking into the soundscape we first hear the vocal layer. It lays over the instrumentation perfectly. The voice retains all of its humanity, left completely untainted by the atmosphere of transmutation that permeates the performances. It’s longing reaches over to us from the other side of a deep canyon. It ebbs away, leaving us with deeply triumphant instrumentation striking through the epic drum sequences.

I Don’t Kiss You Like I Used To/オリンピックの夢 starts with a barrage of angelic dissonance raining down, a heartfelt and triumphant melody pushes its way through the noise. A piano trill helps us to find something of substance as we float through. Once again, incomprehensibly large chords shift like great gusts of solar wind. The winds die out, leaving the piano twirling into the air.

He Said Be Said begins. We enter as voyeurs to a conversation between a man and a woman. One mulls over the negative connotations of quantum duplication, whilst the other eagerly looks forward to its results. A touching moment that symbolises a lot about DDS. That constant duality and subsequent confrontation between the ease and excitement of repurposing and reduplication, and the feelings of detachment that inevitably come with it. death’s dynamic shroud is an entity of its own, independent from its two creators. And the listener recognises the strain and stress that this entity must be put under. Whilst we feel these things, breathy piano plays underneath beautiful improvised vocal undulations. We lie underneath the billows of cloud and wind. Fractured and frail piano spreads across the horizon. A chord and melody sequence strikes deep into the soul. A tragic peacefulness settles over us like morning dew.

Paranoid sounding bells begin 午後. A hurried drum rhythm accompanies a shaking synth line. A break in the main motif allows a large, hydraulic machine to shift its parts around, repeated birdsong to sound and a church bell to strike. DDS hit us with a number of signifying sounds, quickly swapping out the ground under us. No human vocals lead the way, only the sudden cawing and whistle of some sort of bird every so often, providing us with a sense that life does exist within the space. The body of the song fades in an endless echo. We are met with two voices aping a certain phrase repeatedly to each other. Again, more aesthetic indications that repetition is at the forefront of the narrative.

RARE EMOJI COLLECTION starts with the voices still conversing. They are edged out by pulsing synth sounds spreading over a large space before us. Spider-like strings rise suddenly and fall away. It feels as though we are part of another unfamiliar area. A certain phrase song by a female voice repeats, bringing after it crashing drums and a falling, binary melody. Gusts of notes implement a epic and emotive sequence. The voice continues to lament, pushed to the background slightly by the waves of sound. After a rapid-fire snare build up, we are welcomed to an aviary of euphoric noise. The bass sounds providing a sturdy structure for the melody and feeling of power to grow evermore. The glittering synth and machine gun snare lead us out.

Loving Is Easy begins. A collection of stalled and corrupted moments throb in front of us like digital viscera shooting out of a creak in metal. After a while, the sample regains it’s balance. The female voice revolves in a dizzying fashion. The lineal structure does not last for long. The sample is forced into a glitched standstill. Harmful rays of sound burst out sporadically. The sample begins again, but the damage is already done. We know the vocal refrain is just a front for some huge, distorted presence that defies comprehension. We return to repeated nothingness as the song screeches to a close.

Ice Cream for Breakfast and Please Secretly Dye Me are two short outings. The first starts with the viscerally intense whirring of a loop. The contemporary production of the source material results in a sharp and jarring sequence before it crumbles away, revealing a sugary themed song snippet. The latter of the two songs starts in a similar way, the looped samples imbuing the song with an eerie artificiality. A disembodied voice cuts in with a slightly melodic sound until proceedings stall again, the quaint simplicity of the track falls away revealing a sea of noise and dissonance.

BEGIN TODAYS SESSION? floats in effervescently. Slow moving pads envelope us in a warm embrace, the notes that make them up shifting like a strong wind when the chord changes. One solitary shaker taps the instruments into rhythm. Overcome with optimism and ennui in equal measure, the song and it’s placement within the live album is a testament to the duos ever-impressive counterpointed brilliance.

BAE brings slow moving electronica to the fore. A melody is batted about between percussion before the instruments re relinquished momentarily. A lone synth plots a course, with glittering shards revolving around it. A vocal part begins with whispers of Echo and the Bunnymen and other 80s euphoric rock integrated. The singer repeats lines symbolising an ending, a conclusion as the track explodes with sound.

More euphoric choirs and pads as 南サンドリア〔s〕 starts. Tinkling bells sing out into a gigantic scene. A girl laments, on the brink of tears. The strings and pads move meaningfully through the song. The lower, dissonant sounds give way as echoed notes float towards us. The reverberating sounds of a street or market fill our ears.

TTFN K? eases into the space created. A brilliant cover of Vera Lynn’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’. Originally recorded as a wartime song, DDS bring their unique and thoughtful musicality to it. The singer dances atop the slow-moving, simple synth chords. Suddenly, the song shifts from subtle beauty to apocalyptic lullaby. Bells ring out as the singers voice nears breaking point. He holds one particular word for what seems like a lifetime. All of the beautiful energy of the song driving him forward as his voice stands unwavering. Curling at the end slightly, he launches into a reprise of the last line. The world created throughout the album evaporates around him as deaths dynamic shroud finally bid farewell.

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