It begins violently and gets worse. Rattled barely-percussive scrapings, peppered with audio documents at the edge of perception lead to an unignorably painful and persistent crying baby. Eventually she is sped up, synths slide in and it’s over. Tomiris is being born.
Club-concrete producer Ratkiller’s Tomiris is a conceptual reworking of the soundtrack to the 2019 Kazakstani film of the same name and it occupies a similar weird mythic space.
Tomiris the film is a piece of national myth making financed by the Kazakstani ministry of culture. It has a mad-max-meets-crouching-tiger vibe, a kick-ass female lead and a shaky historical basis. It builds itself around the contemporary Kazakh identification with the horse peoples of the steppe, blurring the inconvenient details. Our heroes speak ancient Turkic ahistorically and the villains ahistorical-contemporary-Persian. So understanding ALL of it is off the menu.
Ratkiller takes this blood and dust epic and hyper-identifies with it, amping up the flames, the gore, the abrasive violence and re-working the dialogue so the characters seem like gigantic steroided-out-ogres. If female warlords are feminist then Ratkiller’s Tomiris is a feminist in the mode of the Hindu goddess Kali – devourer of men.
Sonically most of the action takes place at a series of outdoor parties, dust kicked up by dancing, occasional trance drifts into the looped workings of the fairground machines, until an arm is caught and amputated, some light gore, the party goes on.
Tomiris is unique in Ratkiller’s oevre of production breadth and flex (check 2019’s blue thirty to see what I mean) it applies their bag of sonic tricks to a continued story and protracted palette of sounds allowing for a deeper dive. It’s compelling like a dagger at your throat and immersive like drowning in mare’s milk.