I do not exactly exaggerate when defining Distant Voices as a very unique label. Okay, about the musical taste one can discuss (I do not discuss, for I adore about all releases), but each single release is like a unique thing, almost like a collector’s item. Every release is handmade and extremely limited, with no repressing whatsoever, so all copies must be adored, idolised.
Once again that is not different for Random Acts Of Meaningless Joy, the newest recording by Misery. There are 92 (ninety-two!) hand-numbered copies of this CDr-album, with a vinyl-looking compact disc, additional self-made postcards, a 280g linen card with quotes, and a booklet with the lyrics (in English) and a marvellous yet shitty thanks-list. All artwork was done by Distant Voices’ owner Thomas (photography) and long-time partner-in-crime Anna M. (general artwork & layout)once more.
Misery is a solo-outfit by Fille De Misère, an alter-ego for label owner Thomas Bel. Those interested can find some more reviews I did for this project of joy and happiness (see below). With Random Acts Of Meaningless Joy, Misery brings six new elegies, which are the sonic translation of the sober, bleak, black-and-white visual art: indeed, sober and bleak aural art in consequence.
I can keep it quite short this time, for Misery’s newest piece, which lasts for about forty-eight minutes, is a love-it-or-hate-it album with a repetitive character. And FYI, for what it’s worth: I belong to the love-it generation, aha. Oops, ‘aha’ is an expression of happiness, and that’s exactly the opposite of what this project stands for. The most appropriate way to classify Misery’s aural outlet is DSBM (Depressive-Suicidal Black Metal), though a remark must be made. Black Metal indeed it is, especially when talking about the instrumental part of the game. Vocally, however, Random Acts Of Meaningless Joy does not come with any kind of typifying blackened screaming or deep-throaty grunting. What Thomas does right here (and that’s new for Misery), is using a ‘clean’ voice, somewhat querulous, whining, and comparable to what he does with his nameless solo-outfit (Thomas Bel indeed…). It might not always sound that steady or cleanly, I’m afraid, but that’s just a detail. Of course I do like some blackish voices, but actually this melodious singing does fit totally to the whole package. It expresses the bleakness and desperation of the concept, and it goes well with the lyrical theme (loss, mental pain, you know…).
Instrumentally, the better part is based on very melodic structures, deeply guitar-based, with lots of leading passages and tremolo riffing. The string-based structures are heavily supported by a firm, heavy rhythm section, with eerie string parts at the background, and pushing yet slow drum patterns (programmed drum computer?). The tempo is slow, very slow, yet with a handful of faster excerpts. The slowness strengthens the miserable character of the hymns. Besides, several chapters are acoustic or semi-acoustic parts, once again focusing on those moments of melancholy, self-mutilation, discouragement and, why not, misery.
There is a certain repetitive tempo in its globality, but if you delve deeper into the matter, you will surely dissect a lot of varying details and enthralling elements. It’s that search for new aspects that needs the listener’s focus, but it’s worth to plunge into that muddy bath. On top of it, the production strengthens that quest for draught. Like we’re used of, it’s unpolished and rough-edged, but it’s evident that this kind of ‘Music’ needs some dirtiness. A surgically clean sound quality would ridicule the result.
Conclusion: if you make abstraction from the lack of wretched / blackened vocals, and do not mind listening to a wailing voice, you will adore this newest Misery album once again. Don’t expect a progressive release, but another typifying effort to mock all possible random acts of meaningless joy.