Velvet Cacoon

(Southern Lord 2008)Velvet Cacoon - Genevieve

There’s a fair bit of baggage that comes with a review of “Genevieve.” Originally written back in 2004, now being re-released by Southern Lord, the black metal/ambient hybrid was released amid a cloud of controversy. Velvet Cacoon, shrouding themselves in mystery, were the source of rumors that included diesel-fueled guitars, eco-fascism, drug use massive enough to shame Amy Winehouse, drummers falling off cliffs, and all kinds of other shenanigans. It’s since come to light that most of this nonsense has been just that, but doing any sort of research on Velvet Cacoon is incredibly amusing nonetheless. Hey, for tons of fun (but not really) check out the band’s “official” website.

Anyway, trying to keep an open mind to the music that’s kicked up such a shitstorm is no easy feat, especially when Velvet Cacoon have also had a not inconsiderable amount of praise (some have dubbed them revolutionary) heaped on them. Is “Genevieve” as impressive as the band would like you to believe? Not remotely. Six of the album’s seven tracks follow a familiar script. Step One: smother the guitar in fuzz and churn out repetitive, almost insultingly simple chord progressions. Step Two: find somewhere in the song to dissolve into in a gloomy, quavering ambient passage. Repeat. The exception comes in the form of “Bete Noir,” the 17-minute closing track of droning, pulsating white noise (dark noise?) that’s cool in its own meandering, aimless way. The harsh/druggy alternation is used to good effect, moving the album forward along sluggish currents and crashing waves.

Taken on its own, “Genevieve” is an inventive, but not terribly innovative, take on the black metal/dark ambient fusion conceit. At times, it’s a captivating experience fueled by a sensation of fluid darkness. However, if you take into account all the hype and self-aggrandizement that goes with the album, the package comes of as wickedly pretentious. Maybe Velvet Cacoon realized their music wasn’t quite impactful enough to garner a buzz of its own, maybe they decided to have a little fun at everyone’s expense. Either way, the back-story behind “Genevieve,” as wildly fictitious as it is, is far more entertaining than actually listening to it.


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