Friday, 27 March 2020
Salford Electronics Bandcamp Raid.
Since the end of the Grey Wolves, Dave Padbury has concentrated on his solo project Salford Electronics. I often imagine Padbury living in a large tower block in Salford making these tracks late at night or in the twilight hours, are these tracks diaries of a daily existence?
I bought and reviewed the CD of Communique No.2 that was released on Tesco last year, I would describe it in these times as a soundtrack to somewhere that simultaneously exists in the future and now, a dystopian now, I’d also call it the soundtrack to insomnia during the lonely early morning hours. I reviewed Communique No.2 and liked it a lot, so I have decided to carry out a Bandcamp raid on this project and review select titles. I have been meaning to for some time, but in late March 2020, this is now the perfect time.
In total there have been five Communiques released between 2016 and 2020, as well as frequent individual tracks that appear online and there have been two physical releases on Tesco Organisation and Hospital Productions as well as a few compilation appearances.
Salford Electronics - Communique 1 – 2016 – Digital Release – SECOMM1
Communique 1 was the first Salford Electronics release in 2016, it consists of various tracks that were recorded in 2015. I’d been revisiting Communique 2 over the last week in preparation for the overview and it is downbeat in comparison to Communique 1, this has prominent beats and optimistic overtones, the subtle use of noise and vocal speech samples that are used add a voice to the work. Wavering distortion and warbling noise play over the harmonies and beats that populate tracks.
This carries on from where GW left off, beats populated Exit Strategy, here they thrive and flourish. When I got Exit Strategy and Communique 2, I had been reviewing a lot of beat driven noise work and understood it immediately, this is the maturation of Exit Strategy. I found Exit Strategy had a marmite effect when I posted a pic of it on Social Media, some loved it, some whined it – with the emergence of projects Cut Hands, Soft Kill and the beats that grew in artists like Prurient, I didn’t understand why, there are many different shifts happening at one time in the noise underground, often too many to comprehend at once. Communique 1 doesn’t have the absolute focus and clarity of atmosphere that Communique 2 has, but it is the livelier, more aggressive, dirty entry of the project that gets to grips firmly with its themes. A strong beginning to the project, but I am left with another question, is this a secret dance past being reminisced about, whilst simultaneously being forged into a new future.
Salford Electronics – Communique 3 – 2018 – Digital Release – SECOMM3
Communique 3 consists of selected works recorded between 2017 – 18. My first impression of Communique 3 is Northern liveliness that seems to push back in time whilst simultaneously being rooted in the present. It seems to be reference to the riots across the country a few years ago but it could easily be the Poll Tax riots of decades gone. I also get the impression of exploring a different (or similar) side of the self, maybe the actual realisation and reality of breaking societies rules. This is again livelier than Comm 2, beat and noise combinations are developed and actualised even further.
Some tracks pull back to very slow pace into deep atmospherics as they pulsate the listener gets pulled deeper into the album. Minimalism kicks in, so beats and samples echo off each other to form spacious, exhausted atmospheres whilst voice samples and film samples converse to form a nocturnal dialogue of discontent that spreads across the album. In its later stages the sound becomes haunted as it strips back further. I am left with questions - is Communique 3 the disco of discontent or a soundtrack to subversion?
Salford Electronics – Communique 5 – 2020 – Digital Release – SECOMM5.
Communique 5 is the most recent album, made of selected works from 2019 – 20. This is the most fully realised Salford Electronics album, the sound is immediately bigger, the bass is deeper, and the atmospherics are more cutting. Padbury does slice into the sound with sharp noises and hisses, I don’t know if there was an equipment upgrade in-between Communiques, but this one seems to have a better, bigger sound with a sharp mix thrown in. There is frequent and playful use of bouncy beats, interrupted by samples throughout the album.
Relentless is the projects best combination of noise and beats to excellent effect. The rhythm is sharp and cuts through the sound like noise, the hiss just seems to form a base. When the atmosphere is as minimal as it can be, the sound and depth still seems huge. Communique 5 demonstrates sharper clarity, depth which intensifies the work of Salford Electronics to new levels.
Various Recent Individual tracks on the Salford Electronics Bandcamp.
Collapse – February 23, 2020 – Download.
Collapse seems to revel in Dark Ambient atmospherics, it still feels like a Cityscape at once futuristic and atmospheric. Padbury’s previous project Grey Wolves did intense atmospheric slow tracks away from their livelier violent assaults at times, Salford Electronics continues that. The harmonies emphasize sorrow, as the atmospherics create a Barren landscape of sound, no beats, just punctuated emptiness.
Destitute – March 10, 2020 – Download.
This again has no beats or liveliness, just atmospherics created through contrasting drones and phone like interruptions of sound. This is also different, it that it seems to form an event rather than an imagined landscape, is this something I missed on the Communiques as it is the first time that I have noticed this.
Still – March 23, 2020 – Download.
Are these Self Isolating times a time of productivity for Salford Electronics? Repetitive beats are cut into with double tracked beats and interruptions of noise. The work seems to resonate on the beat for a long time, allowing only a minimal palette of sound to work around it – the focus on the beats repetition without tainting it too much or too often is a frequent theme in Salford Electronics.
I feel I have gained a wider understanding of Salford Electronics and really dived into it. I missed right out on The Grey Wolves, but I am right here for this. I have indulged into a good selection of the projects body of work and remain very impressed. All works by Salford Electronics are available here - https://salfordelectronics.bandcamp.com/
Nevis Kretini 2020.
Salford Electronics Bandcamp - https://salfordelectronics.bandcamp.com/
Hospital Productions - https://hospitalproductions.bandcamp.com/album/deconstruction
Salford Electronics twitter - https://twitter.com/salfordelectron
Communique No 2 on Tesco - https://tescogermany.bandcamp.com/album/communique-no-2
Tuesday, 17 March 2020
Slow Murder – Warped Skin – Cassette/Download – Outsider Art – 2020.
2. Gift of Insomnia.
Today I discovered Slow Murder so I am hitting the latest release, Warped Skin on Outsider Art. The cover combines photography and drawing to primitive effect – a depiction of the raw self that is powerful through its simplicity.
Stunted uses the simple repetition of resonating pulsations as a bigger, harder re-introduction of the project. The desolate landscape of sound is reintroduced, and the noise seems massive as it interrupts finding new ways to resonate further each time, this is the artist making sure we see the(m) self in the work – a self-portrait carved in sound. The stripped back simplicity seems to shed skin right down to raw flesh and bone. This build up of noise is compressed and beaten into a rhythm as a static vortex of noise shouts over it. Stunted isn’t Stunted at all, just a bigger, better Slow Murder, less torturous, just a massive assault.
A smaller dialogue of subtle noise is the intro to Gift of Insomnia and what sounds like guitar abuse seems to grow in stature and form a rhythm for howling noise atmospherics to build barren landscapes. This seems to have interludes of torture as the noise becomes hostile through feedback manipulation, I like how the project teases with earlier (release) methods – however Gift of Insomnia is new terrain for the project that has esoteric leanings through frenzied repetition and manipulation of speed and frequency.
Painful sharp tones and farting drones make me dizzy as the noise abuse of Slow Murder takes on bigger, sharper dimensions on 0110. This pulls into bleak atmospherics while the feedback buzzes through, as it rises it becomes aggressive through simple tone manipulation, the farting pulsations are nauseous, the combination rich.
Slow Murder is a subtly aggressive project that seems to thrive when doing this. The self remains amplified and etched into the work, I am again impressed and can’t praise this project enough. I have mentioned the US project Hydra in relation to this in another review and that was an impressive, torturous project, this follows that path to make impressive, solid work each time.
Nevis Kretini – 2020.
Slow Murder – Less Being – Cassette/Zine/Download – Self Released – 2019.
Direst Link to artist BandCamp - https://slowmurder.bandcamp.com/
Recent release onOutsider Art - https://outsiderart.bigcartel.com/product/slow-murder-warped-skin
1. Special Interest Pt. 1.
4. Special Interest Pt. 2.
5. Less Being.
Another UK noise artist that I had not heard before, my attention alerted from a Facebook post by Ordeal by Roses. I love Ordeal by Roses, so I am investigating this tip off. This is described as Queer Noise, Queer and Trans noise is a boiling pot of greatness of late. (Niku Daruma, Straight Panic, Closer Bones, Clowndoll, Doughgirl Tapes….) This album was recorded in Cardiff, that is very exciting, Wales is very amazing, seriously.
Sharp, blasting Harsh Noise opens the work, this shifts through passages of harshness, the tendency towards tonal listener abuse is akin to what Hydra specialised in, I like this ethos. There is a barren feel to the work as it breaks down to singular, sparse elements before rebuilding, which then inserts dynamics and depth into the builds and breakdowns.
Glass seems to amplify the barren undertones of the opening track and build noisy from there. What’s forms is a churning desolate landscape of rumblings and splattered distortion that radiates hostility. The feedback seems to sing, a lone voice never eclipsed by its surroundings that eventually taunts the listener by cutting through everything with precision.
Mist is where we hit the Welshness of the project and this is very important. Ordeal by Roses seems to pull in and throw back their environment as a landscape for the noise to act out, to the point where it is natural. This is a prime, amplified example of that, I am feeling the landscapes that dominate all my frequent trips to Wales (family) and it is seriously impressive. This starts minimally and has massive build ups that are dragged into tunnel like sound restriction. Mist is the self amplified through its environment, sometimes the impotence of the self is a key component to Power Electronics, an acting out, a revenge, this is the opposite of that, it is as if the artist has stood naked in front of the amplification to cut the themself into the sound.
Scraping back to emptiness in Special Interests Part 2, as noise builds that echoing, tunnelling returns and resonates massively. This is more listener abuse, we’ve been given a full dose of who Slow Murder is, time to be tortured for a while. Less Being carries that on immediately and subtlety as we are dragged through brief passages of raw sonic abuse. As the pain builds layers, the atmospherics seem to resonate an Industrial Landscape as if referencing change and growth. The way the work morphs is constant and rapid, even the use of percussive noise is excellently effective as it leads to the massive endsplosion of the self again.
This is just great and discovering stuff like this makes this blog worth it. Had I discovered this in 2019, it would have easily made my years top 10. The strength of this project is quite simple, the insertion and amplification of the self through noise technique. I am now a fan for sure.
Nevis Kretini 2020.
Monday, 16 March 2020
Album: The Outside
Artist: New Risen Throne
Label: Cyclic Law/Old Europa Café
Catalogue no: 133rd Cycle/OECD 276
1. The Outside (I): Sunrise
2. What We have Seen
3. The Outside (II): Facing the Void
4. Corrosion of Pillars
5. The Outside (II): Structure
6. The Outside (IV): Bodies Float Silently
7. Birth of a New Disciple (II)
8. A Vision of the Hidden (Sysselmann Remix)
9. Echoes from the Loss (Visions Remix)
10. Breath of Growing Structures (Taphephobia Remix)
11. Humani Nihil (Phantom Ship Remix)
12. Sad Silent Prostration Before the Monolith (Vestigial Remix)
13. Sigh of the Soul (Apocryphos Remix)
14. Signs of the Approaching Wastefulness (II) (New Risen Throne Remix)
15. Withered Regions (TeHÔM Remix)
New Risen Throne, aka Gabriele Panci, has been a purveyor of some of the finest dark ambient textures for a long while now, and this latest opus is a follow-up to 2011’s Loneliness of Hidden Structures (Cyclic Law – 38th Cycle). As a quick glance at the tracklist will verify, it comprises seven new tracks and a further eight remixes created by some of the premier dark ambient acts working in the field today. As it’s such an epic aural tome I shall curtail my waffling and get straight into it.
As with most of NRT’s previous output, we are immediately beset with cold, dark, sweeping atmospherics on ‘The Outside (I): Sunrise’, perhaps at the coldest point just before the sun shows its face, yet ultimately one detects a streak of cosmic evanescence swirling throughout its length. Weaving in amongst the dankness are voices, ultimately overwhelmed by gargantuan tsunamis of oppressive, heavy drones. If I were to place this in any kind of geographical context, albeit a spiritual one, this would be Purgatory, a dimension suspended somewhere between the vaguely enlightened and the absolute damned, a piece of otherworldly real estate hovering between bright skies and an industrial wasteland of decay and filth, leaning heavily towards the latter though. Perhaps this is what the title refers to: a purgatorial realm where those on the outside are forever goaded and taunted by visions of the heavenly, knowing that they will never reach those heights. That is terrifying.
Next is ‘What We have Seen’, a slowly-pulsing, stealthy miasmic cloud of suffocation, an intangible and diffuse but sentient phenomenon that yet has a destabilising and destructive effect, perhaps like the slow onset of plague, feeling out the vulnerable and the doomed with its icy searching fingers. It starts off quietly, almost imperceptibly but, by turns, it gains a solidity and deadly weight that crushes both people and the light. A woman’s voice interrupts, perhaps a supplication to whatever saviour she believes in, until resonant tones like bells emerge out of the gloom – but what do they portend? Do they bring the promise of being saved or the harbinger of inevitable death in the wake of an immovable force? Choir-like voices only reinforce that notion, giving way to a massive wave of orchestral-style drones that threaten to subsume all before its onslaught. ‘The Outside (II): Facing the Void’ doesn’t give us any respite, wailing tones and drones blowing coldly across a barren landscape, that once was fertile and lush, yet now is nothing more than a paean to desolation. The only things that grow here are diseased and misshapen, perverted sculptures displayed in homage to a twisted vision of Nature. Not even high-flying orchestral sweeps manage to dispel the oppressive stuffiness, instead only suffusing the atmosphere with something monolithic and indestructible, demonic even.
‘Corrosion of Pillars’, track 4, is an exercise in lulling one into a false sense of security, beginning as it does with plangent, almost soothing tones, before a breath-like drone rips into the fabric of this reality wherever it may be located, dragging with it darkness and infection. It’s seemingly anchored in a foetid solidity, a slow-creeping flesh-rust, eating the body of materiality from the inside, sundering its very cells and constituents, corrupting and necrotising. The next track, ‘The Outside (III): Structure’, doesn’t pretend to offer us any shelter either, a dank, claustrophobic dungeon dripping with stagnation and ichor, replete with mysterious voicings echoing up from secret subterranean places. All we can do here is to shiver against bare stone walls, and attempt to find warmth and solace where we can. Almost as if closing a circle comes ‘The Outside (IV): Bodies Float Silently’, the final iteration of the cycle (but not the final track on CD1): the endpoint, when the ghost in the machine becomes a literal machine, an engine of de-evolution that ultimately sends us (and the world) back to a primitive state, or even to time of endless death. Light is very much in short supply here, but not altogether extinguished – hiding in some chasm somewhere, away from the clutches of darkness, biding its time for the right conditions for it to re-emerge. The hints are there, albeit extremely faint.
To round off CD1 we have ‘Birth of a New Disciple (II)’, a track suffused with occult meanings and invested with a deep spirituality, even if it is itself wrapped in a kind of darkness as if to hide itself from the world. It soars and sweeps, occasionally creating sparks and clashing bolts of power and light, swooping to the ground only to veer upwards at the last moment. It is power personified, self-contained and confident in itself, knowing that it has ultimate control, and that its boundaries are limitless. Its worshippers know that too, and seek propitiation and appeasement, hoping to win its friendship in a bid for survival.
I won’t dwell too much on the remix disc as, although these tracks are ‘new’ in the sense of new interpretations of selected pieces of NRT’s previous output, this is a bonus adjunct to the new material. Nevertheless, I think they deserve a little time to be listened to and appraised.
Norway’s Sysselmann (Thomas Narverud) gives ‘A Vision of the Hidden’ even more of a sense of the occult streams behind everyday appearances, injecting some cosmic expansiveness into proceedings. Frédèric Arbour’s Visions project reinvents ‘Echoes from the Loss’ and transforms it into something etheric and deeply seismic. Taphephobia (Ketil Søraker) takes on ‘Breath of Growing Structures’ and reimagines and reshapes it into something uplifting, poetic, and mesmerising, a call from the depths of time, space, and dimension – a soundtrack perhaps to accompany the cooling of the universe and the subsequent coalescence of all matter into familiarity. Definitely a highlight.
Roberto Faloci, aka Phantom Ship, drags ‘Humani Nihil’ into the deep realms of some bottomless ocean, where it appears there are wonders to behold. Droning chords swirl effervescently, light appears to dance even at these watery depths, and colours and alien shapes cavort in profusion. This one is another highlight, and left me with a smile on my face. Vestigial’s reinterpretation of ‘Sad Silent Prostration before the Monolith’ is subterranean, burrowing deep into the strata of earth to reach the primordial chasms and caverns below our feet. Rumbling drones do a magnificent job of stirring the lizard brain right here. ‘Sigh of the Soul’, remixed by Apocryphon, delves even deeper if it’s possible, assailing us with deep bass drones that appear to echo endlessly around the bowels of the earth. Whatever lives down here wishes to remain there, and to be left alone.
No we’re on the home straight with the last two tracks. First is ‘Signs of the Approaching Wastefulness (II)’ remixed by New Risen Throne himself, and what we’re treated to is a masterful essay in creating disturbing, unsettling atmospheres, without resorting to overwhelming noise or drone. A barely audible distorted voice, placed against scratchings and disembodied noises, plus the occasional swelling and strategically-placed drone, are enough to create a vivid picture. Many would do well to study this. Finally, TeHÔM take the honours of rounding the set off, with ‘Withered Regions’. A lone bell, treated and distorted, accompanies a male voice, a ritual being enacted in some dark and secret place that isn’t anchored in any particular time or place, a sourceless Everywhere that somehow pervades all of existence but yet is not part of it. This is an incantation to manifest isolation, separation, distance, and ultimately, detachment from all that is material and earthy.
It seems highly appropriate that I am currently reviewing this whilst much of the world is in lockdown to guard against a contagion: although where I am people are still free to go wherever and to mingle with whomever they please, this album somehow gives a foretaste of a deserted world, where the streets are empty, and the human voice and spirit has been stilled. It almost seems as if this album and its release form a kind of focal point, a nexus, wherein all the fears and hopes of mankind have converged. Perhaps it’s even a tad prophetic – even if it ultimately isn’t, it’s a magnificent album. Was it worth waiting nine years for? That’s for you to decide, but it’s arrived at a very propitious moment.
Available as a 2xCD in an edition of 500 in an 8-panel digipak and as a digital stream from here:
And also from the Cyclic Law and Old Europa Cafè websites:
Psymon Marshall 2020.
Wednesday, 4 March 2020
Various Artists – Oumuamua – 2020 – Alrealon Musique – cassette/download - ALRN077
1. Animals againt Humans - Bewitchers
2. Datadrift - Night Theme 2
3. Sagana Squale - Wendy's not here
4. Pas Musique - What's Behind The Tent Door
5. [ówt krì] - Mirror World
6. Jan Swinburne - Time Depths
7. Xcreenplay - Unconventional Pathways
8. Sarana - Reuwas
9. Mark Harris & JOHN 3:16 - Procession
10. The Mannequin Factory - Arriving
11. subduxtion - The Frost Line
12. Alberto - New Life
13. BLK TAG - to absorb the soil // the fatness of the earth
14. A.M. Boys - And Yet
15. John E Smoke - 95000kph
16. Eyryx - Seuls Contre Tous
Both images are from the AlrealonBandCamp.
A Conversation in Understanding Ancient Space Travel.
Named after a comet, in fact Oumuamua was the first object spotted by man to be moving through the solar system, so I begin to get why we are understanding ancient space travel.
This release on Alrealon, (a label based jointly in France, Switzerland and the USA) is adorned with amazing paintings by Robert L. Pepper. His paintings and other work can all be seen here. The artwork compliments the music well – as something starts to become recognisable, it becomes something else entirely - repeatedly.
The varied works on this compilation reach a certain sense of universal abstraction and in some cases, they are loosely psychedelic. To break this album down, track by track debunks it, I tried doing that and it smothered its beauty.
Ambient passages and some elements of noise in individual works as they begin to present themselves. There are periods of delicate, subtle electronica and raw experimentation of sounds and microphone crackling which make for platforms of which work takes off on its travel only to take a different course upon the next track as glaring sharp ambient drones build a suspenseful, haunted passage of journey that takes many different directions.
Timelessness is a word that comes into my mind a lot with this album, I have mentioned Ambient, Electronica and experimentation, but they are used in the context of loose terms as they are methods that can be pinpointed, yet there is a stylistically lack of commitment to many of the tracks. The theme of Space travel and the abstract nature of many of the works ties it all together whilst the mixture still breathes and flows as one – as this happens I feel myself travel across the decades, things eventually become blurred and I am caught in timelessness throughout the album.
There was one section where I thought I was caught in some epic Prog build up, but then the rhythms kept broke down and sounds started looping themselves – expectation was pointless as the mind is disorientated massively. There are some shamelessly retrospective sounds spot welded onto modern sounds and just when vocals appear, they are warped and treated beyond coherence - things are always kept to just the right level of unfocussed.
This is a great compilation, that flows perfectly through the furthest parts of the galaxy. I recommend this album to any listener. Good work.
Nevis Kretini 2020.
Thursday, 20 February 2020
Haare – Brain – CD – Aussaat – Aussaat 11 – 2020.
Destroy fascism, love forever.
Since forming in 2009, Haare has released many recordings on a variety of labels including Matching Head, Freak Animal and Heavy Meditation. It is the project of IIkka Vekka. I saw Haare live at the last United Forces ofIndustrial festival in London a few years ago, the performance was confrontational and intense; I liked it a lot. Described as going ‘headfirst into the primordial psyche, the mind below the mind’, Brain is released on Aussaat this week.
This album is very different to what I heard when I saw Haare live years ago. I know Vekka utilises a guitar a lot in his live performances, in contrast this feels a lot wider than that in sound. Perhaps it is all sourced from guitar, it is hard to tell as the sonic language is wide. I feel it is very layered and shifting in its sound as it moves along, yet all the works tie in together well. Things can go quiet, were there are small interactions of sounds that build space into the work. Pulsating, psychedelic landscapes are slowly formed within this space. The use of psychedelic sounds encourages you to go into the music or let it go deep within your psyche. As the sound is woven of different noises, it intensifies and builds and huge resonating soundscapes are formed. Brain is very effective and well delivered.
I’ve played this album a few times since receiving it today, I really rate it and encourage you to buy a copy from either of the links above. Brain has served as an excellent intro to the recorded work of Haare. One of 2020’s best releases so far.
Nevis Kretini 2020.
Monday, 17 February 2020
Hostage Pageant: The Cherry Point: Kazuma Kubota: CD: Cipher Productions: 2019: (sic 115)
Hostage Pageant is Shane Church, releasing since 2010. The Cherry Point is Phil Blankenship, releasing since 2002. Kazuma Kubota is Kazuma Kubota and has been releasing since 2008. This split CD contains 3 Hostage Pageant tracks, 1 Cherry Point track and 1 Kazuma Kubota track. Artwork is by the Deathpile dude Jonathan Canady – Jonathan’s amazing art can be seen on his art page - here.
The Hostage Pageant work is like being immediately thrown into a big vortex of Harsh Noise. His work is Harsh and direct, the sound shifts and distorts massively. Depletion is brutal in its’ delivery. Falling Out of Place takes time, it crackles, splutters and keeps trying to explode, it tries and tries until it kick starts a massive wall of distortion. What sounds like a dog panting seems to act as an interlude as things creak and echo around until the sound explodes again, this time there appear to be shouted vocals in the mix. The sound here is more violent than that of Depletion, Church kicks off and fragments big-time here. Enabler is the last blast of Hostage Pageant, this starts with suspenseful tones until the wall of noise breaks through, sharp fragmented noises are forced through the wall. The contrast between wall and sharp noise keeps attention focussed until it breaks down again. This does the break down, build up again routine a few times and indulges that more than the previous track, building to a massive finale.
I confess to only hearing what Cherry Point did on the 10LP California compilation back in 2006 (wow, so long ago). The spaced distortion of Just Before Dawn is impressive from the off, it is as if Blankenship comes at noise from an entirely different perspective, where? I don’t know, but it’s something else completely. The whole track feels distanced and seems to come from a totally different mindset. I am very impressed by this, there is something else going on and I can’t pinpoint it - distanced, distorted and epic. From a personal point of view this project is the one that really grabbed me as it ties in with the current UK PE sensibility.
Kazuma Kubota takes epic journey to new proportions with Zattou Ni Tokete, this has quiet beginnings that shift to loud build ups of vortexed distortion right back down to quiet shifting. There is subtle rattling and creaking before some blast of noise takes over. This like Cherry Point shows a different mindset, but it happily plays noise in the quiet areas allowing subtle sounds to play off each other, interact and build. This has more in common with Hostage Pageant yet is more shifting in the range of areas that it occupies for periods of time. Kubota delivers a gorgeous, long journey of sound.
Three artists who all play outside the box, all the works are different, yet share some vague similarities, the main being that they are all trying to push their work elsewhere. This is a good split of three artists pushing at the boundaries of their own work. A strained beauty of an album that I like a lot.
Nevis Kretini 2020.
SK.MV Slow Death. CD. Cipher Productions. Sic107. 2018. 100 copies.
SK.MV is a collaboration between Stephen Petrus of Murderous Vision and Wyatt Howland of Skin Graft. This is their only album; Slow Death and it is a story of Personal and Social decay that is spread across 5 tracks. I like the effective artwork and presentation of the album spread nicely over 2 panels in a unique soft plastic, non-jewel case.
The first chapter of Slow Death is an immediately atmospheric and rich recording. Electronics and clattering lead the noise at the forefront, whilst cold, echoing backing shifts position between front and background to set us on the journey that is Slow Death. The first track has an immediate aggressive assault with threatening distortion and loud clanging, this is a focussed use of noise that leans into Dark Ambient atmospherics.
The second track pulls back into deep dark ambient territory whilst the distortion remains and becomes a lead component in the sound. It functions like an interrupted dream state that is manipulated continually. Aggressive drones and rising electronic sounds turn dreams into nightmares as the pace of the track accelerates. III continues the nightmarish passages of sound and pulsates itself into a faster pace. The sounds multiply on top of each other to form a heightened state of noise with lots going on so different elements of sound take prominence at different times. It winds itself down by removing different sounds from the mass that has built up, as the sound rebuilds itself it becomes more noise aggressive and violent, using sharp feedback, hiss and pulsating drones. Four is immediately chaotic and psychedelic, percussion seems to be present as noise chaos ensues. The psychedelic chaos is more prominent in comparison to the aggression that built up over previous tracks. Vocal chanting enters the chaos towards the end of the track and takes over as lead sound.
The finale strips back allowing a few noises to make the sound feel sparse and cold; the communication between the different elements of sound has more impact. Less is more, even as it strips back elements are concise and the slightest build up is felt. The nightmare plays itself out.
SK.MV appears to be a one-off project, the product of that being Slow Death which is a strong album that is beautifully presented and played out well. All tracks tie in together and continue from one to the next perfectly. Good work.
Nevis Kretini 2020.
Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Album: Symphony of Dying
Artist: Sádon & Treha Sektori
Label: Cyclic Law
Catalogue no: 146th Cycle
1. Sádon – Shadow
2. Sádon & Treha Sektori – Elimination
3. Sádon & Treha Sektori – Wolf’s Day
4. Sádon & Treha Sektori – Spear Over our Heads
5. Sádon – Aegeus
There are times when I feel that the word ‘gothic’ is bandied around too much, especially when it comes to describing something dark or melancholic, whether it be a painting, a book, or music, as in this case. Even though gothic originated as an architectural term to describe a style of cathedral built during medieval times, gothic only really achieved its apotheosis during the Victorian era, with its overwrought architectural flourishes and attitude to death and dying. And, listening now to this stark beauty of a release, it is very much reminiscent of the Victorian gothic revival, deeply melancholic and possessing a sense of sweeping grandiose tragedy. Imagine, then, a Victorian-style painting, picturing a lone widow standing by a freshly dug grave clutching her shawl about her throat, her young child clinging desperately and sadly to her skirts, the sky above an oppressive blanket of heavy black clouds, while a chill, uncaring wind whips her clothing around her body. This is exactly the atmosphere this five-tracker elicits, drawing a powerful picture of both sadness and melancholy as well as poesy and beauty.
The cortege begins its slow progress in ‘Shadow’, a wind-borne lamentation for the dead, a voice wailing into the lowering clouds above. Those clouds are pregnant with rain, and every second they threaten to give birth to a downpour. When the rain does come, will they be tears for the departed soul, or for the mourners? ‘Elimination’ continues the mood, plangent guitar notes overlying a string-like drone, the same voice from before again crying to the air, its timbres and tones flying to the heavens, perhaps like a dove ascending to seek the sun. Notes of anguish intrude as the track progresses, another song of mourning for what has been lost and will never return. Do we weep for the dead, or for ourselves?
‘Wolf’s Day’ opens with majestic string strains, accompanied by voices far in the distance, an ancestral calling inviting us to enter the wildwood, to return to the ways our forebears once held dear, a way of bringing us back into the fold. One can easily imagine being wilfully lost in a vast forest, a temple of trees, their trunks the columns holding up the roof of the sky, and rarely glimpsed wolves acting as the guardians protecting it from the profane. We are always aware of the sanctity of this place and its sacred nature, and that we must not defile it. ‘Spear over our Heads’ is a mournful but simultaneously reassuring elegy, a pointer perhaps to the guardian deities protecting our bodies and souls. Lilting strings wrap us in warmth and love, while sustained drones glide around us and coalesce into a kind of protective spiritual armour. It may appear to be something of a melancholic piece, which it is, but it is also a signal that the strength of our ancestors is still there for us to rely on, and that the glory of nature is both our shelter and inspiration. Having embraced it once again, it is ours forever, and more than that, our connection to it has been firmly re-established.
‘Aegeus’ closes out proceedings, swirling in with more strings, droning darkly in the lower register. Aegeus is a mythological figure appearing in the founding myth of Athens, a goat-man who, along with his brothers, retook Athens from the usurping Metionids. He was the father of Theseus (of Minotaur fame), who also was one of the founder-heroes of the foremost Greek cities. The grandiose sweeping nature of this track befits the epic stature of the man known as Aegeus, portraying him as a steadfast, strong, and implacable hero. The music itself feels as if its roots belong not to the now, but to the ancient past, a past that is only now reaching out to us via Sàdon.
One cannot help but make a comparison here with the style and sound of the output of 4AD Records, of Dead Can Dance in particular. This is not meant as an insult – rather it is a compliment, the grandiosity and sweep of the music absolutely pitched perfectly and without any pomposity or grandstanding. Even though it’s a short album, there’s so much going on here, so much emotion compacted into each piece, that its effectiveness is a marvel to behold and a joy to listen to. One can easily imagine listening to this on a winter’s evening, looking through a window on which rain spatters, and each droplet of water trickling down the pane under its own weight. We watch with fascination as individual drops head inexorably downward, a notion which inevitably makes us wonder about our own track through this thing called life.
That is the beauty of this album – its ability to seep into our very fibre, to spark musings and ponderings about ourselves and our place in the scheme of things. Admittedly, normally I am not one to lean toward gothic melancholia, but this wormed its way into my cells, and made me listen and think. It made me think of my own mortality and, in a strangely morbid moment, about how real worms will one day burrow into my skin and return me to the earth. Bizarrely perhaps, I found some comfort in that – that I am part of a cycle of life.
Available from Cyclic Law’s Bandcamp page, in a limited edition CD of 500 in 6-panel Matte Laminated Digisleeve, a limited edition of 300 black vinyl LP in Matte cover with printed inner sleeve, and a digital download:
It can also be purchased from Cyclic Law’s official website:
Psymon Marshall 2020.