Thursday 1 July 2021

Dark Music Review: Insektio

Dark Music Review: Insektio

Review By Casey Douglass


People often look to space when they think about strange lifeforms that we, if we ever meet them, might struggle to understand. The annals of sci-fi and horror are full of another alternative though, that of the insect world scuttling around beneath our feet. Insektio is an experimental noise album from Umpio, one that takes this chitinous world of insects as its muse, and comes out the other side with flakes of exoskeleton stuck to its lips.

So what does Insektio sound like? Well, it’s a screeching, popping, buzzing, clicking, rumbling, darting collection of tracks, each with its own feel. Some sound like they might be the audio equivalent of mandibles clacking and cutting. Others like insects might sound if they were somehow upgraded into weaponised military tools, like a thundering beetle-like attack chopper thumping over the horizon. I know that the album title and artwork frames the impressions that you are likely to get, but the tracks really do seem to embody the alien-like qualities of insects and their movements. It’s really fun to listen to.

My favourite track is probably the first one: Nocturnal Trigger Patterns. I think this is because it was this track that pulled back the veil and made me realize how rich the album would be for impressions and interpretations. It begins with an ear to ear screeching, rustling, thumping sound, hisses emerging from a sea of digital static. It felt like millions of tiny legs scratching along wooden beams. A high whining tone appears, one not unlike a retro 80s sci-fi UFO might make. A buzzing begins, pulsing in regular intervals, deeper bass tones giving the track more heft. Some of the notes I wrote about the images flowing through my mind included “demonic ticking clock”, “Military cockroach” and “snuffling pig eating”.

Another track that stood out for me is Asymmetrical Phonotaxis. It starts with small trills and beeps, with bass tones fluttering beneath things. After the business of previous tracks, this one felt chilled and restful by comparison. A boiling static begins, and then the sound that I really enjoyed, a sound that seemed like tens of metal cans rolling down a junk-yard pile of scrap. A dark hissing sits over things, and I half wondered if some kind of insect was using the cans as their new homes, snail-shell style. The thought of a junk-yard of tin cans scuttling around on slender legs made me smile. When the insects seize control, I hope they will be kinder to us than we are to them.

Wing Movement Communication is also a fun track, one with some very interesting sounds. After the darting fuzzy tones and echoes at the start, things turn a bit grainy, with a cascading sand-like feeling. There are impressions of scuttling, cloaking things in an itchy blanket of little legs. Some of the tones take on the aspect of a clipped elephant trumpeting call, the echoes and shrills chased by more scurrying movement. If the insects are communicating, I can only wonder about what they might be saying.

Insektio is an album that paints a compelling audio impression of a world that we often ignore. I don’t think any of the sounds could be considered as pleasant, but when taken as a whole, each track becomes a smoother kind of whole. Maybe when you pour so many harsh or strong sounds into the mix, they inevitably knock a few of the harder edges from each other. I was also surprised at the richness of the mental impressions that arose in my mind, as I don’t tend to listen to albums that might fall nearer the “noise” end of the spectrum. A fine album.

Visit the Insektio page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Insektio

Album Artist: Umpio


Released: 31 May 2021