Artist: 金猫塔 Golden Cat Pagoda
Album: 弥弥 Mí Mí
Label: Pest Productions
Release Date: December 30th 2022
Location: Shanghai, China
Shanghai’s mysterious 金猫塔 Golden Cat Pagoda is a solo project whose latest album 弥弥 Mí Mí presents us with an experimental take on ambient black metal. The album draws on elements of atmospheric black metal, dark ambient, Chinese folk music and post metal to create a truly haunting and unsettling atmosphere.
While the album is definitely a black metal release, it’s so much more than that, to the point that at times the tracks feel more like soundscapes that songs. There’s a deeply esoteric essence to the album, one that gives it an otherworldly feeling. This is in part thanks to amazing synth work used to create layers of ominous and unsettling tones and textures, but also thanks to the expertly places use of Chinese folk instruments. All of this is compounded by the use of subtle drone elements that help to not only give additional depth of tone, but to disorient and unsettle the listener further.
The vocals on the album are another key element to its overall atmosphere, coming through as an atmospheric black metal style, but with heavy distortion, fading and echoed effects added. While the main style is a faded shriek, you’ll also find a hissed style, as well as haunting faded clean vocals layered into the music, a semi spoken, semi barked style and haunting ritualistic throat singing. There’s a haunting mysticism to these vocals at times, while at others there’s an unbridled rage or an uneasy desperation.
The drum work on the album features traditional Chinese drumming, which brings an unusual rhythm and tone to the music, especially when paired with regular drum elements. Guitar wise there’s actually a lot of variety on display, ranging from furious, barbed tremolo picking through to depressive atmospheric softer, clean toned segments. These elements tie in perfectly with the array of traditional Chinese instruments, often overlapping to follow the same patterns and rhythms. The way the tracks are written makes these elements feel like an integral part of the music rather than an afterthought or a flourish.
Overall, the album is a truly unique listening experience and a journey into dark and mysterious places that I encourage all of you to embark upon. The album was my last major highlight of 2022 and was originally going to be included in a list style piece, however I felt that it was too special for this and deserved its own article.
Listen to and order the album: