[Reviewed by Damiano Lanzi]
23 Threads was formed by guitarist Mark X. Marchoff quite a long time ago, in the mid 90’s. An album called “Magija” was released in 2001, but then the project was abandoned, until the Zoharum label recently encouraged Marchoff to bring new life to it. The formation was completed with singer Ingrid Dawn Swen and bassist Rafał Janus and in 2015 the label released this new album along with a reissue of the first one. What we hear in this record is a weird and sinister form of macabre folk, marked by Ingrid’s distinctive cabaret voice and her theatrical presence. The fact that the production is quite essential, with few overdubs, gives the impression that the tracks have been mostly recorded in one take. This effect is enforced by the sampled studio chatter heard in “Seeing”. The vocals in particular have a live recording feel and some musical parts seem to be improvised. That, together with the obsessive repetition of some themes, confers to the whole of the album the mood of a mantra, of a ritual that is practiced in the actual length of the recording. In the end, this sensation creates an intense, intriguing atmosphere that overcomes the initial skepticism caused by the lo-fi production. Without any doubt, 23 Threads doesn’t sound like anything else and even if the song structures are simple, it’s evident how the band looks for experimentation in every aspect of their music. The instruments are played in unusual ways, the guitar is often detuned to produce a deep twang (“Terminal Rise”), or looped in hypnotic phrases (“In Deep Forest”), the fretless bass plays crooked, nasal riffs (“Still Waters”, “The Fallen”) and even the vocals are treated with extreme effect setups (the robotic voice heard in “Philosophy”, the watery flanger of “Animals in the Circle”) . Almost every track features a clever experimental solution and it’s nice to see this effort to create original sounds. The conclusive “The Bridge” has been remixed by Different State (Marchoff’s main project) and it’s an interesting track because here the ritualistic aspect of the album is enriched by some industrial production, making me think about the early works of Current 93.