Nate Utesch continues to evolve and move the sound of Metavari forward into new territory. Starting back in 2008 as a post-rock band with electronic flourishes strewn throughout, the band is now just Utesch working alone both with software, and increasingly hardware. He built cavernous worlds of electrical delights on records like Moonless and Symmetri, and he proved himself to be quite adept at adapting his own musical worldview onto already well established concepts. His commissioned work back in 2016 for Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Cinema Center, the exquisite and sublime re-scoring of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, turned out to be an overwhelming success and a very sought after vinyl release for RSD 2017.
Metavari’s newest release, ABSURDA, sees Utesch taking on another master: David Lynch. The album sees Metavari reimagining the soundtracks to ten of David Lynch’s short films. The results are the best work Nate Utesch has created. It’s sublime, chaotic, menacing, and quite beautiful.
When One Way Static Records approached Nate about doing another re-scoring there were lots of film ideas thrown around. Nothing was really sticking and as Utesch was at the point of scrapping it all together he had the idea of taking on filmmaker David Lynch. Specifically, his short films. After a talk with the label they gave their blessing and Utesch dug deep. The results are ten stunning pieces to compliment the odd and sometimes disturbing visuals dreamt up by David Lynch.
“Six Figures Getting Sick(Six Times)” is the opener, and really the pinnacle of audaciousness. Noises crackle and wheeze with a kind of neurotic pantomime. Metavari truly captures the absurdity Lynch created. Imagine 80s Jan Hammer being swallowed by a garbage disposal and you’re close to what’s happening. “The Alphabet” comes very close to something you’d expect to hear on a Metavari album. Part Metavari and elements of Wendy Carlos. This is one of Lynch’s best known short films, and Nate Utesch captures the visuals to near perfection.
Elsewhere, title track “Absurda” is absolutely stunning. What Metavari does to the work of David Lynch is ground it in a reality that is relatable. Lynch’s work is polarizing to say the least, and Utesch works to bring it into sharper focus with his deft compositions. “Premonitions Following An Evil Deed” is one of the more restrained pieces; more engaged with emotions like longing and trepidation. At just a little over a minute it’s the shortest as well. ABSURDA ends on “Ballerina Part 1 & 2”. These are the lightest and most ambient works on the record, showing the true depth and range Metavari cover.
Maybe it was the long car ride to the Michigan shore I spent with a high fever listening to ABSURDA on repeat that did it, but I connected to Metavari’s new long player on a deep level. Both the noise and abrasiveness, as well as the sublime beauty hit me on a gut level. That slightly trippy and otherworldly feeling one gets when burning with fever seemed to be that added visceral punch I needed to get within the notes and intent. The fever long subsided, I still connect to ABSURDA on that same level. Nate Utesch has made his masterpiece, I believe.
You may think you’re not a fan of David Lynch, but after listening to ABSURDA Metavari could very well change your mind.
8.4 out of 10
Check out all ten shorts with Metavari’s new scores synced to them here.