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Darkthrone - A Blaze in the Northern Sky Music Album Reviews

Each Sunday, Pitchfork takes an in-depth look at a significant album from the past, and any record not in our archives is eligible. Today, we revisit a tense, beautiful, lo-fi landmark from the second wave of black metal.
In the fall of 1971, a child is born in a remote village in Norway. He will one day rechristen himself Fenriz, after the Earth-swallowing wolf, Fenrir, who appears in Norse mythology and the Satanic Bible. But for now, he is Gylve Nagell, being raised by his grandmother, spending inordinate amounts of time alone. The pivotal moments of his childhood occur while listening to records, music introduced to him by an eccentric uncle named Stein. Pink Floyd catches his ear; a few songs by the Doors hold his attention; but it’s the English progressive rock band Uriah Heep that blows his mind. He’s entranced by the heavy organ sound, the cryptic lyrics, and the mysterious men with long hair who appear on the album’s cover. He cherishes the triple-fold LP like an heirloom from…

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Octo Octa - Resonant Body Music Album Reviews

Maya Bouldry-Morrison’s album is a celebration of the qualities—intimacy, ambiguity, physicality, release—that lead to dancefloor catharsis.

“I loathe crowds,” the novelist Edmund White wrote after visiting the Flamingo, one of New York’s first gay discos. “But tonight the drugs and the music and the exhilaration had stripped me of all such scruples. We were packed in so tightly we were forced to slither across each other’s wet bodies and arms; I felt my arm moving like a piston in synchrony against a stranger’s—and I did not pull away. Freed of my shirt and my touchiness, I surrendered myself to the idea that I was just like everyone else.” Dance music promises relief from self-consciousness, even while the class system reified by many clubs inflames it. Resonant Body, the new album by DJ and producer Octo Octa, celebrates moments like that night at the Flamingo—when temporary intimacy coaxes the bashful into gasping emotion.

Octo Octa named her last record Where Are We Going?, a note of ambivalence that echoed through its tracklist: “Adrift,” “No More Pain (Promises to a Younger Self),” “Fleeting Moments of Freedom (Wooo).” Maya Bouldry-Morrison had just come out as a trans woman, and her songs kept circling discursively, as if feeling their way beyond anxiety. Resonant Body sheds any lingering unease, beating in time with the palpitations of euphoria. Lead single “Spin Girl, Let’s Activate!” is a wry joy, looping together get-on-the-floor vocals before teasing the tempo down again. When Bouldry-Morrison introduces piano stabs, the chords race endlessly upwards, growing more ardent each time they return. “Imminent Spirit Arrival” shows off that ear for dynamics: A shouted “go!” cuts through the bass’s lustrous darkness, like some neon sign flickering briefly to life, until she strips everything back to the hi-hats alone. It’s the shiver of recognition amid collective bliss.

Resonant Body finds words for its exuberance in a raucous chorus of vocal samples. The title phrase of “Move Your Body” blares out over and over, refracted into many parallel variations—a banger that works your subconscious. “Can You See Me?” pinballs around between breakbeats, always returning to the same line: “I know exactly how you feel.” The message could be house music’s oath, but by isolating that intensely tender vocal, Bouldry-Morrison deepens its ambiguities. Resonant Body celebrates 1990s rave anthems with a bittersweet sense of vanished time—the party ended long ago, the dancers shut their eyes against daylight, but balloons still float around the room on inherited breath.

That spiralling ecstasy gets relieved by a late interlude, “My Body Is Powerful,” which calls back to the earlier, more introspective Octo Octa. Its sound world of trilling birds and ambient tones feels both haunting and comforting, an ecosystem recreated from memory. As distant chimes broke the tranquility, I thought of a passage in Alan Hollinghurst’s novel The Spell, when the shyly dorky narrator goes clubbing for the first time: “The music possessed him, he lived it with his whole body, but his ear had become so spacious and analytic that he could hear quite distinctly the hubbub of everyone talking, like the booming whisper of tourists in a cathedral.”

At the end of Resonant Body, every lone voice merges into a loud multitude. One short snippet in “Power to the People” comes from a 1980s ACT-UP rally, but otherwise the protest marchers that Bouldry-Morrison samples chant inaudible words. Letting them drown each other out, she captures that moment when individuals become the masses, a divinely ordinary transfiguration; you can even hear an organ playing. Solidarity is the work of relating to strangers, understanding people who might have nothing in common besides a shared cause. Until it finds a sympathetic form to resonate against, music is only noise.

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