A record over an hour long holds a myriad of expectations. Does it stale halfway through? Is there not enough variation? How much is just filler? What’s the purpose for writing such a prolonged narrative of music? There could be any number of reasons, but a constant worry I have is that artists do this so they can be perceived as prolific for the sake of a strenuous record to sit through.
This week’s record, “Traktat,” by the Austrian one-man post-metal band Karg, is arguably 45 minutes longer than it needs to be. Spanning nearly 80 minutes, “Traktat” is difficult to sift through–particularly because every one of the nine songs is at least ten minutes long. I’m at an impasse with Karg, whose career is about fifteen years in the making, because “Traktat” is, by all means, a beautiful record. With passages of clean guitar work in between sections of searing atmospheric riffing, it includes nearly everything I adore about Deafheaven, Lantlos, and Agalloch, three bands who are equally as much post-rock as they are metal. Furthermore, 80 minutes is what I’ve come to expect out of black metal bands of this ilk, and I have no problem listening to incredibly long records in one sitting.
However, when every song is a reflection of the last, that’s where “Traktat” becomes tedious. Without diversity, any record can be made bland; without moderation, if you listen to the first ten minutes of “Traktat,” then you’ve listened to the whole thing. I might take a random song from this record for a nice winter playlist, but it really doesn’t matter which one I choose. It’s a sad reality, when an artist has woven themselves into a state of unoriginality and can’t climb out. After continually putting out records at an increment of every two years since 2006, one would hope Karg has the creative wherewithal to justify that much music. Yet, I think I have hoped for far too much.