Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ordo Equilibrio Rosarius - Onani [Practice Makes Perfect] (2008)

Cold Meat can do no wrong. Proved time and time again, this is and always has been the unfailing truth. I was surprised to find out that the eroticism-obsessed neofolk of Ordo Equilibrio Rosarius had been added to their roster, but I was, of course, wrong to doubt.

My initial impression of these Swedes definitely wasn't very favourable. Some of the song titles gave off that insincere goth sexiness, too reliant on the awkward use of cheap imagery to give me much hope. The intro did nothing to dispell this judgment - "Glory to Thee, My Beloved Masturbator" kicks things off rather poorly with unimaginative "seductive" statements delivered with all the sincerity of porn dialogue. The poppy electronic beat doesn't help, either, but the song gives a glimpse of what's to come in mainman Tomas' sultry neofolk singing. The whole concept makes sense as soon as you hear him - the calm, hypnotic neofolk style really is quite erotic. Thankfully, things pick up in a major way after the opener - beyond that, the only piece that I have any problem with is "Too Late for Innocence, Too Late for Regret (Four Hands Please Better than Two)" for the bland hip-hop beat that drags down an otherwise perfectly good song. All of the songs are gorgeous and unique, from the Summoning-esque drums and trumpetwork on "CUM, and Let Me Lead You Far Astray" to the interesting juxtaposition of gasps and monk chants on "Let Me Show You, All the Secrets of the Torture Garden"; "(Remember) What You Sow is What You Reap" immediately reminded me of Sopor Aeturnus with it's quasi-medieval sound, while "Confessions of a Sinflower" is a darkwave detour past the house of Ulver.

Because you're probably still uncertain about it, let's get back to the eroticism. This is actually handled well through the music - even beyond the overt samples and references sprinkled throughout the album, there is an intrinsic sexual nature to Ordo Equilibrio Rosarius' sound. It's soft and breathy, but that's not all. Much like the "Roman" orgies cited as a conceptual influence, their music has a ritualistic, almost transcendentally occult feel due to the feminine vocal chorus and synthwork. Unlike "Glory to Thee, My Beloved Masturbator," which is childish enough that I wouldn't really want someone overhearing it on my speakers, Onani's general sensuality is pretty well done. And this is not to say that the album is only focused on sexuality - there seems to be a vein of dark humour running throughout, and some songs point their symbolism in unexpected directions. For instance, "I WILL: Even After the Flowers are Gone", seems to go into the loss of humanity and love due to Christian morality. Now, I could be totally off with that (symbolism analysis is really just masturbation for English majors), but the lyrics talk about still being there after the war on Heaven, so even if they don't mean what I think, they're still pretty damn good on their own.

There are some little blemishes that drag down its validity, but nowhere near enough to overweigh the positive aspects. A must for neofolkies and lovers of calm, beautiful music.

Verdict: Win [4/5]


autothrall said...

I have never been able to get into their older albums, but I will check this out.

is this your life? said...

I haven't listened to their older stuff beyond little snips, so I couldn't say if this is any different. I am pretty sure that it sounds a lot better on my headphones than over the speakers, for whatever reason.