Thursday, 5 September 2019
Apocalypse Sounds- Promised Land
Album: Promised Land
Artist: Apocalypse Sounds
Label: Hamfuggi Records
Catalogue no: N/A
1. Part 1
2. Part 2
3. Part 3
4. Part 4
7. Part 7
I keep thinking that, in spite of being all too aware of the pervasively malignant aspects of the internet and its social media sites, I wish that I’d had access to such a platform back in the day when I started getting involved in the scene so that I could have happily wallowed amongst the contents of the treasure-chest of obscure and arcane music contained within it and the labels that release it. There are a lot of talented and passionate musicians who eschew the norms and rules that mainstream music appears to be following slavishly these days, and in consequence they’re free to create some of the most wonderfully abstruse, engaging, difficult, enraging, joyful, abstract, and challenging music, in the process questioning the very nature of what music is and what defines it. The point I am trying to make, albeit in a roundabout way, is that through social media (specifically a Facebook group) I came across this drone/noise ambient album Promised Land, and at the same time discovered the Barcelona-based Hamfuggi label.
Apocalyse Sounds is Arnaud Chatelard from the Bordeaux region of France, and the seven tracks on show here are perhaps reflective of Bordeaux itself. The climate there is described as ‘oceanic’ and it often tends more to feeling Mediterranean than other areas in similar climatic bands. To many, perhaps Chatelard himself, this is indeed a ‘promised land’.
I think that, luckily, because the tracks are titled as parts and not possessed of names, then this means the listener can imprint the pieces with their own interpretations. ‘Part 1’ fades in on a gentle drone which is joined by treated metallic sounds, the drone increasing in volume and intensity until it becomes a physical manifestation, hovering slab-like in the air, just above the cloud ceiling. It isn’t, however, static: it shimmers and pulses as if alive, its hulking presence neither threatening nor friendly, and it is both of, and apart from, the earth. Somehow it feels as it’s communicating with the land beneath its bulk, and that it’s doing so for a very important reason.
‘Part 2’ feels like quiet thunder rolling through the sky, a portent of something momentous that’s about to happen. It emanates from the presence hanging in the heavens, resounding in a continuous undulation of movement and existence. Its purpose: to cleanse, to purify, to sanctify, and to create. Eventually, the clouds, once grey and tinged with the promise of rain, now turn white and retreat, leaving in their wake the blue of Heaven. The land below reaches up its metaphorical arms, entreating the sun to bless it with its beneficence. ‘Part 3’ delineates the transformation of that land, a metamorphosis turning what was once barren and lifeless soil into a place of bounty. Green proliferates, and new life seeks new footholds. In ‘Part 4’ the ground has sensed the renewed energy flowing through it, and it greedily laps up whatever comes its way; as a consequence the very land is transformed too, moving with gentle heaves and slow-motion subsidences that lead to mounds and depressions, hills and valleys materialising to differentiate the topography. Specialised ecosystems evolve, and fecundity follows in their wake.
Life increases and expands exponentially, covering as much acreage as it can. Variety and speciation abound in ‘Part 5’, but there is a hint, albeit a minor one, that along with plenty comes poison: an unsettling undercurrent is somewhat apparent, running discreetly beneath the main narrative. Perhaps this is a necessity, a way of maintaining a measure of balance, as well as a warning – plenty leads to complacence and laziness. ‘Part 6’, although fading in very slowly with a treble-pitched drone that’s soon accompanied by a grinding bass counterpart, is perhaps re-emphasising that not all is as it appears in Paradise. The edges of Utopia are beginning to be slightly blackened – but that’s natural, as life itself is subject to death and decay, and this is a reminder.
To round the album off we have ‘Part 7’, and this one leaves us with a note of optimism, that in spite of any dangers present the Garden will survive and thrive, and that Paradise and all who live within her bounds will reap its benefits. There’s still that hint of caution, however, but there’s much less emphasis on it; the inhabitants will learn through experience how to navigate around the negative and rely on the positive. There is much of good service here, plenty enough to enable the fruits to bloom and develop.
I particularly liked this one, because it gave me room to interpret the music as my mind prompted me to, without any clues taken from track titles (apart from, perhaps, the album title itself). The vista presented here is as broad as the listener wishes it to be: the ‘promised land’ spoken of could be as small as a back garden or as expansive as a whole planet, depending entirely on the whim of the participant. And the listener is exactly that – a participant and a witness. The soundtrack inspires creation to flower in the mind, to stimulate virtual conception and generation into myriad forms, as many as the participant cares to imagine. Each track flows logically, one from the other, taking cues from the previous one to instigate its own narrative thread. Let’s just say that in my case, having the kind of imagination that I do, music like this allows me to germinate all those little potentialities lying dormant in the deep recesses of whatever part of the brain that allows visualisations to exist, and to let them bloom. And this collection of pieces was the substrate and nourishment that was all that was needed to spark off the nascent life into actuality.
Available as a download from Hamfuggi’s Bandcamp page:
Psymon Marshall 2019.