Output 1:1:1 – ‘Rolling Corpse Pathetiqué’


Stirring in its dark textural intrigue and creative emotional expression, Rolling Corpse Pathetiqué is the debut album from Toronto-based trio Output 1:1:1. Its inventive soundscapes and structural unfolding pair with dynamic vocal showings, from uneasy displays of passion to meditative wordlessness, to resemble a more gothic-minded later-era Scott Walker; the result is captivating.

The opening “Ruined Piano” haunts from the get-go, weaving eerie keys and an ominous textural backing — fit for contemplation inside a haunted house. Wary-sounding vocals quiver in their incorporation, escalating into an impassioned beckoning past the three-minute turn, as heavier bass and percussive elements intertwine. The band’s talented ability to steadily intensify in tone and structure, with cohesive darkness, proves riveting throughout the album — and is certainly evident here, reminding of Xiu Xiu in its unsettling dark beauty.

Bellowing textural rhythms and multi-layered, ghostly vocals again waste no time on the subsequent “You & Yours.” The elongated vocal presence and feedback-friendly backing compels with a consistent immersion, into a second half that intrigues with its twangy guitar bursts and meditative vocal effects. The ensuing “Ballast” invokes an apocalyptic, after-the-blast spaciousness, à la Twin Peaks, and traverses brilliantly into the epic “Oblast.”

The murmured guitars, gentle rhythms, and dazed vocals within “Oblast” concoct ample momentum, patiently building into a second half with free-flowing guitar percussions and rumbling percussive flair. This arsenal provides a striking contrast to the next effort, initially sparser in texture; “Man Godiva and the Rolling Corpse” reveals a weep-y vocal feeling with the “sweat it out,” vocal refrain sending chills in its lonesomeness, ahead in the mix.

“Man Godiva and the Rolling Corpse” is especially impactful in its second half, where the vocals attain an angsty, escalating fervency amidst percussive pit-pattering; the aesthetic conjures a particular likeness to later-era Scott Walker and his darkly enveloping textural experimentalism. Elsewhere, “Impossible Sweet Machine” touts a sonar-like backing pulse amidst squealing frequencies, resembling Silver Apples’ hypnotic pull. The hectic rhythmic distortion and expressive vocals make for a delectably scary production.

The finale “Howl” also proves consuming in its meshing of gothic aesthetical haunts and twinkling textural fragments, set alongside a more set-back vocal presence with emotive tonal inflections. As the processional-feeling vocal theatrics fade into a tribal-like percussive pulse, and then nothingness, the album’s standout atmospheric impact is made even further evident; Rolling Corpse Pathetiqué is a standout stylistic success from Output 1:1:1.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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