Deer Howling is the “little secretive” side-project of Valquire Veljkovic of the obscure electro-pop band ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR. (You may have heard their remixes of songs by Velvet Condom and Noblesse Oblige. If not, check them out on their site: http://www.aniaetleprogrammeur.com/) Val tells us: “The roots of this project are in mid 90s acid techno scene, wandering over goth and metal to punk and psy rock, poetry and finally aniaetleprogrammeur. You can consider the album as a work of many years of archived song skeletons which are revived and renewed, re-recorded and added to new songs. It also marks an end of my archive of unfinished songs which I will now delete and start fresh for the next EP.”
YEARHAND opens with “Deer Killer,” which has an insistent beat that calls to mind Nine Inch Nails’ “Terrible Lie,” while also calling to mind the general vibe of Crystal Castles. In a roundabout way, “Deer Killer” is like a prettier, better thought out version of Crystal Castles’ “Doe Deer.” Aside from both having deer in the title, both tracks have boisterous beats and a similar, slightly distorted tone. Plus, they’re both instrumentals.
“Absence” featuring Aude GL is one of the album’s more intriguing tracks with thick, trip-hop flavored beats and eerie atmospherics that call to mind Pre-Millenium Tension era Tricky. Throughout the song, we hear woman speaking softly, almost whispering, in French. Meanwhile, there’s a whipping sound that somehow makes it all feel very sexual. Plus, there’s a whole lot of moaning and groaning going on in the background. Whether it’s the moaning of gratification or torture — or both — would seem to be in the ear of the beholder. It’s under two minutes, but it’s so fascinating and lush that it totally feels like a full-length song.
Another standout is “Blossom,” during which a girl talks with someone I believe to be a filmmaker, or someone who’s interviewing her about a filmmaker. It’s like listening to bits and pieces of someone else’s conversation. And you can’t quite tune it out even though you’re not entirely sure what they’re talking about. Maybe you don’t want to tune it out. In this case, it makes you want to listen closely, to try to decipher what’s being said. But suffice to say that they could be talking about making a porno or a snuff film or something far more innocent — I guess we’ll never know. “I don’t know what psychotic means,” the girl says at the end, closing out the track on a creepy note.
The first song on the album with actual singing is “Crushclap” featuring Emilio El-Lauren. “Come with me now,” he sings, almost speaking the words, and it sounds like a threat. Musically, the song features nice and thick, chugging bass guitar and sonorous, in-your-face beats. By the time it’s over, you feel like you’ve just been assaulted. Or, at the very least, like you’ve just witnessed something terrible, perhaps a sex crime. It’s impossible to listen to this song and not think of dark, David Lynch-style gloomy images. If there’s ever another Twin Peaks movie, this would compliment Angelo Angelo Badalamenti’s usual, haunting Twin Peaks score perfectly.
If “Crushclap” isn’t bleak enough for you, wait until you hear the next track, “DRRRKK,” which features whip-cracking-like beats and what sounds like evil monks performing a black mass in the background, meanwhile someone keeps saying things in a deep, wholly menacing voice. Maybe they’ve successfully summoned the devil and he’s whispering in your ear? Whatever is going on, you know it’s got something to do with satan.
Later, “Pissonthis” featuring Antal Nemeth is a spoken word track about revolution and money and grieving. Strangely, there’s no music here, just the ramblings of someone who sounds like he’s lost in a state of conspiracy theory fueled psychosis. Nemeth is also featured on the next two tracks. He does some singing on “Zombie Eye,” which has a rather pummeling beat. But, as he sings the lyrics, which are more like scripted — or improvised — dialogue, he also says them in the background. As the track progresses, the music grows louder and louder until you’re tempted to turn your stereo down but then it finally levels off and eventually fades out. It’s certainly what I’d call suspenseful. Then you have “Gold stranded pearl,” which has a solid beat that all sorts of noise is poured all over, much of it distorted. It has a much colder vibe than most of the songs on the album, which tend to have a warm tone in spite of the darkness that inhabits the songs.
Eventually Emilio El-Lauren comes back for a couple of tracks. “Crush cranios clap hands” is a very avant garde track with lots of noise and humming bass sounds. He sounds more drunk than evil as he mutters various words and nonsense on this track. It’s an interesting listen, for sure, but when he’s back in what I’ll call demonic mode on “Ulvens mjuka haar (The wolves gentle fur)” it’s much more fascinating. I don’t know what language he’s speaking, but it’s certainly not one of the romance languages and it sounds like he’s trying to summon a ghoul or else he’s casting an evil spell on someone. We might even be listening to a ritual where they sacrifice a little baby, like Rosemary’s.
The album ends with “We draw creatures” featuring Grayl. “We draw creatures, and they are coming, they are coming in pieces,” she says. This could just be the ramblings of an unmedicated person with a severe case of paranoid schizophrenia or she could be that one person in every horror movie who warns the teenagers that they’re going to get killed if they don’t go home but they don’t listen to him and, of course, they all wind up getting slaughtered. Except, maybe, for the main protagonist, who kills the psycho, but in this case I don’t think the story has a happy ending. “I want to believe,” she says as we hear ghastly sounds in the background and it ought to send a chill down your spine. Ultimately, you come away from this listening experience wondering if you’re going to die in seven days, like when people watched that video tape in The Ring. Spooky stuff.
on the web:
DEER HOWLING on Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/music/DEER+HOWLING/Yearhand
ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR’s main site: http://www.aniaetleprogrammeur.com/ and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ANIAETLEPROGRAMMEUR/186923324097
and Valquire Veljkovic herself: https://www.facebook.com/vlqrv