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Review: Sawak – Renunciant

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Renunciant by Sawak is unlike any album I’ve ever heard before. The album opens up with some wonderful drone and melody, before descending into a bit of noise madness, then back to drone and melody again. There are peaks and valleys here, which is crucial in my opinion to noise music. A lot of noise albums I’ve heard are simply monotonous, but Renunciant is full of engaging textures. I especially enjoyed the flavor of the melodies which sound decidedly Indian or Arabic at times. Halfway through the album, it gets both orchestral and glitchy in a playful way. With Renunciant, Sawak challenges the listener but not in an overbearing way.

It’s like taking a hit of one of Alexander Shulgin’s research chemicals, not quite a traditional acid trip, but an interesting variation on the psychedelic experience. Suddenly a half hour into the album, it sounds like I’m receiving alien transmissions through my headphones. It’s as if some extraterrestrial race picked up a recording of classical music and warped it according to the parameters of its unique and otherworldly culture.

I had to look up the definition of Renunciant which I wasn’t surprised to learn is traditionally used to describe someone who renounces worldly life for spiritual reasons. On this album, Sawak renounce the world of Western music, and enter into an entirely new space. It’s almost like the warped passages of classical music were inserted as a reminder to hammer this point home. Then, just like that, I check the album and it’s almost finished. Could it be? A noise album that feels like it’s over too soon? No, in fact, Renunciant is the perfect length for this project. I will certainly be returning to this album again. Highly recommended for any fan of experimental music.


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Author: Sam Wade

Classical violinist and piano player. Mostly self-taught guitarist took lessons with Vic Juris who was sampled for Gang Starr's Mass Appeal hit. Appeared in Music of the Heart with Meryl Streep (d. by Wes Craven.) Long-time home-recording artist.

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