Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Crows Labyrinth - All Will Perish

Artist: Crows Labyrinth
Label: Self-released
Catalogue no: N/A

     1.      All Will Perish
     2.      Nuclear Shore
     3.      Frozen Waves
     4.      Category Five
     5.      Terminus

This offering from Dutch project Crows Labyrinth (Theo Tol) stands in complete contrast to one of my most recent reviews (the death ambient of Trepanerungsritualen) – dark ambient atmospherics abound, to be sure, but its natural home belongs aboveground as opposed to being in the depths. Furthermore, all these compositions are improvised and recorded in a single take (except tracks 2 & 3 – further processing was added post-recording), using nothing more than four- and five-string bass guitars processed through effects. Consequently this is an eclectic collection of ideas and concepts, a wide-ranging exploration of virtual landscapes, both natural and otherwise, and alien topologies.

It should come as no surprise then that the set of pieces presented come across as organic outgrowths, shaped and moulded in real time. The titular track glides in on supersonic streams, gracefully soaring high above the clouds in unfiltered light, barrel-rolling majestically and unhurriedly, catching the thermals and forever climbing. Pulsing and crackling chords, ebbing, flowing and punctuated by vocalisations, scintillate and spark warningly on ‘Nuclear Shores’, a palpable contaminant ready to twist and mutate the delicate DNA of living organisms.

‘Frozen Waves’ is a drone-locked ship, trapped and immobilised in a monolithic Lovecraftian nightmare, held fast by gargantuan slabs of ice that almost appear to be infused with a sentient malice. ‘Category Five’ is the eye of the storm, the eerie centre where everything is preternaturally quiet and calm, a muted harbinger of the maelstrom raging outside its bounds. ‘Terminus’ growls its way into life, a low rattling threat, a beast guarding its lair, daring us to take one more step. The threat escalates into sparking fury, a cacophonic series of spitting detonations endlessly reverberating, piling and collapsing on top of each other, spittle flying, eyes flashing, hackles rising. This is perhaps the very storm that ‘Category Five’ warned us about.

One aspect of this album I particularly like (and appreciate) is the deft maintenance of mood apparent on each composition – musician Tol has resisted the temptation to mess with the basic temper of any particular track, and instead built upon and enhanced the atmospherics. The danger in that, of course, is that that maintenance could become repetitive and samey, but there’s sufficient variation to hold the attention. Furthermore, the degrees of atmospherics expressed within all five tracks keeps the whole affair moving along nicely, delineating those fine differences in much the same way that different times of the day do in real life. It’s almost needless of me to add that this is an accomplished set, by an accomplished musician who undoubtedly is very aware of the ‘craft’ side of music and improvisational composition. Grab yourself a copy (available on the link below) - you may be glad you did.

Psymon Marshall 2019

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