As this is a tale of two halves, I shall begin by diving into the ‘original’ source materials, the pieces composed and recorded by Drasser without assistance. A feedback howl starts ‘Colorless World’ only to be quickly replaced by a steamroller crush of grainy oppressive noise, a behemoth flattening and depriving everything of shape and colour. ‘Alien Murmuration’ sounds like exactly that, a scratchy granular alien language composed not of words but of coarse inflections of ugly sound. It roars and breathes fire, a vociferous mélange of aggression and confrontation. ‘Chthonic Echoes’ buries itself deep underground, reverberating bells and machine noise, a steampunk contrivance burrowing through earth and rock on some unknowable mission, hoovering up the detritus it removes and then excreting the same out its rear to fill the void it’s left behind. Following on we have ‘Skull Shining’, an exercise in mesmerising noise and voice loop, an ever-rolling and coiling collapse of concrete-mixer grinding noise and machine whine. This is like a scene from a disaster movie played on endless repeat.
More loops precede a gargantuan rattle as of a massive tracked vehicle, intent on pulverising civilisation into dust, reducing the history of the ages of man into nothing but rubble, and erasing the universe’s memory of us. Lastly, we get to ‘The Last City’, a low rumble, plucked strings, and a softly whining drone gradually building in strength and volume, a dusty memorial to a once-thriving city upon which death has now settled like a deadly blanket. Winds howl through empty streets, barrelling past buildings with smashed windows like gaping wounds, and half-demolished skyscrapers jutting up like broken teeth. Even so, the walls can tell stories, ghostly voices echoing endlessly to the air but no one will ever hear them.
Now, let’s wind back to the very start and take a look at the collaborative versions, beginning with ‘Colorless World’ again, but this time with the input of Black Mountain Transmitter aka JR Moore. It starts with a glitchy recording of broadcast music, before more glitchiness in the form of a subtle beat launches that crushing steamroller noise. This time it appears even heavier and blacker, heavy enough to take the earth out of its orbit around the sun. Scott E. Candey’s Gruntsplatter help out next on ‘Alien Murmuration’, and he makes those extraterrestrial scratchings of communication on the original sound like a buzzing hivemind, each member connected by a subtle ringing drone, and in the process imparting to it another level of separation from the human scale. Again gravity appears much stronger on this one, and the atmosphere incredibly dark and inimical to flesh.
Two projects make their appearances on ‘Chthonic Echoes’, James Keeler's dark ambient/noise project Wilt and Dutch outfit Gnaw Their Tongues, a couple of heavyweights indeed. Quiet subterranean murmurings greet our ears first, slowly getting louder, reminding one of vast chasms and caverns far below ground, where tiny blind creatures skitter and scrape. It’s a chilling atmosphere, far colder than it should be down there, but the winds are indeed frigid. There comes a point where the crunch and crash of bass frequencies collide and that’s when screamed vocals emerge forcefully out of the darkness. Perhaps this is the pain of the world being let out, a long anguished cry for the damage done. Steel Hook Prostheses are a firm favourite of mine, and they add their unique flavours to ‘Shining Skull’, an industrial machine/torture shop of begrimed sharp blades and circular saws, rusty axle grinders the size of a Caterpillar 797 mining truck’s wheel (including tyre), and 10,000 ton steam presses. Metal squeals against metal, chains rattle, compressors sound like jet engines, and flames fly in huge gouts. Flesh is scraped from bone, trampled bloodily into the concrete flooring, and organs are flung carelessly every which way.