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Sehnsucht - Wüste

There's no stopping Maniac at the moment. With Skiltliv he has released the album Skandinavisk Misantropi late last year, and Det Skjedde Noe Når Du Var I Belgia with Andrew Liles and Czral. Wüste is by far the most surprising, I've heard from the former Mayhem vocalist. Sehnsucht is regarded as his noise/darkwave/ambient project but it goes far beyond that description. Alongside Maniac, Sehnuscht comprise Vivian Slaughter (Gallhammer), the Icelandic Skitliv guitarist Ingvar Magnusson and sound composer Andrew Liles. Sehnsucht is an altogether different beast for Maniac.

The hollow ringing atmospherics of 'Sult' cuts to a barrage of metal guitar riffing with Maniac's guttural roar, the entire thing is then looped and riddled with effects, blasts of explosive noise and added frequency damage. It sounds like a monstrous experimental improvisation. With a caterwauling vocal it's also one of a few tracks that betray Maniac's past in black metal music. As for much of Wüste, Maniac relies on a spoken word approach of sorts, and with Andrew Liles on production they're shredded and shadowed only allowing his unadorned vocal to slip through for brief moments.

On the charmingly titled 'Cunt Queen' his pensive drawl menaces over rattling percussion, and quietly layered buzz guitars drenched in effects. 'Tarn of Guilt' is awash with backwards processing and heavily effected vocals, treated into squeaky and squawking processed hellish voices. It's a funhouse of effects and treatments latterly picking up on some simple piano keys and plain acoustic strum. 'Stadt Der Engel Der Vernichtung' features a split-channel delivery of out-of-time vocals over feint acoustic guitars. Everything is steeped in rubbery treatments, squeaks and creaks, snaps and crackles ensuring Wüste is enveloped in a surreal madness more typical of Nurse With Wound.

Even where Maniac isn't centre stage things don't settle into anything too normal. The title track is rendered in Japanese by Vivian Slaughter, her spoken voice ever so slightly processed over squawking sax-blurt and lumbering lowend bass notes. The female voices and background hammering of 'Tokyo Daymare' slides into electrobeats with rhythms in disarray, sprinkled with a collage of TV samples.

Wüste contains a couple of cover versions. And it's telling that by far the strangest is his choice of a Dwight Yoakam cover. With heavy reverbed chords augmenting the acoustic guitars 'South of Cincinnati' is given a touch of bluesy Americana with Maniac laying down a gravel coated drawl in the vein of Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan or Bain Wolfkind.

Sehnsucht's take on Current 93's 'Good Morning Great Moloch' flits between an almost nursery rhyme delivery and whispered and growled spoken voice, the melody carried on fuzz guitars. Imagine Current 93's Swastikas For Noddy redrawn as stripped back black metal and you might get an idea of how this piece of creepy folk music sounds.

The pivotal track on Wüste is 'Hanging In English Garden' where over tumbling electric guitar notes, Maniac, shadowed by the breathless whisperings of his fiancée, lets loose with a string of expletives as he passes comment on life, consumerism and capitalism. Snide comments on black metal and questions of worthiness and life are raised. As it progresses you can pick up on Current 93's 'This Carnival Is Dead And Gone' as it quietly strains from one channel.

Wüste is a strange beast of a record that marries elements of metal with industrial and noise. I guess Wüste is disparate and diverse but at its best it successfully captures the atmosphere of Current 93, with the eccentricities of Nurse With Wound, while carrying over something of a metal edge. Who knows whether the breadth of ideas is down to Maniac or to Andrew Liles fried production but this is definitely the best I've heard from Maniac. For more information go to www.coldspring.co.uk