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Ocrilim’s Infamin: Still Shredding, Still Confusing

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Mick Barr doesn’t make music easy for us. From the infuriating track titles of Krallice’s 2012 Years Past Matter to the mind-boggling volatility of Barr’s other material, every work bearing his name carries some sort of incomprehensible quality with it. And in most cases, it’s hard to differentiate whether that final product was his intent all along, or merely a random form encountered during the creative process. Either way, his latest guitar-only release with Ocrilim doesn’t do much to change that status quo. Simultaneously both mesmerizing and repulsive, 2013’s Infamin is a virtuosic release but ultimately still a narrow one.

Barr has previously separated the musical makeup of his twin projects Ocrilim and Octis, but the lines have been blurring for years now. Noisy, endurant shred is still the focal point of the music, but it’s now interspersed with uncomfortable, paranoid sections of clean guitar. Infamin has its frenetic moments, but it’s noticeably less busy than the distorted arcade of 2008’s Annwn, cutting back both the length of the material and the swathes of static to make more room for eerie clean-tone passages. There are some vocals here, too; Barr’s hollow yells echo over opener “Shruod” as well as over the title track. This is one of Ocrilim’s more approachable works due to its relative calmness, and some especially memorable riffs crop up when they’re least expected, like the dancing notes at the beginning of the title track. Mick Barr fully showcases his musical palette here: heaviness and even a slight suggestion of melody appear in sections that were formerly dominated by dissonance. Barr’s trademark chromatic technicality slides unpredictably in between confused arpeggios and unexpected repetitions.

But despite the presence of vocals and the comparatively abundant guitar variation, Infamin is barely more accessible due to its organization. It’s still difficult to not find most of the lines aimless – though maybe that’s to be expected for something that was recorded, mixed, and mastered in the span of just five hours. Rhythm is sparse at best, and the whole project has always left me simply thirsting for some structure – conventional, unconventional, anything to break up the patterns here. Some other Ocrilim works (Anoint, 12 12 12, Qurontenthrough) seemed like they were marginally more organized, but listening to forty minutes of Infamin leaves us curious and pondering what exactly we just heard. It’s often even hard to tell whether we liked it or not. Barr’s obviously not doing this for the fan support, but you still sometimes have to wonder what his goal is with Ocrilim. There’s nothing wrong with putting ideas down on paper. Most artists just tend to spend a little more time refining them first.

Ocrilim’s Infamin is out now. Stream and purchase it here.

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