Joined: Dec 08, 2015
Location: victoria bc
|Posted: Wed Dec 30, 2015 1:38 pm Post subject:
|Since you haven't had any bites on this, I figure I'd give it a go. You already generously sent me a VCF PCB, so no worries if you want to hold out for fresh blood. It was nice to listen attentively to the album regardless.
Wrote as I listened, no proof-reading. This is more a journal of the experience of listening than a formal review.
Within the first 30 seconds of listening, it becomes apparent that I am attending a doom metal concert. It is sound check time and the air is thick with anticipation. I am standing against the stage, to the right of center.
I am treated to a low, distorted, growling drone - a heavily distorted bass. The sound evokes images of a dimly lit stage in some small venue; I am standing right against the stage, in the shadow of the speaker tower to the right of center. I can clearly see stage monitors and a patchwork of cables snaking and coiling across the floor, connecting monitors and microphone stands to some unseen mixing board in the back. The coiled and winding black rope is interrupted by the shiny chrome of the plugs and ragged bits of gaffer's tape.
As the atmosphere unfolds the sense that this is a concert that will never come to fruition begins to grow in me. I imagine an empty stage; an empty concert venue; guitars and bass resting haphazardly against the stage equipment, the microphone unattended on its stand front & center. A drum kit sits unused, and some road cases are piled up to the left of it. The source of the sound is unseen; I imagine perhaps a roadie or sound guy is testing things, but I can't see where he is.
About three minutes in, the scene starts to feel a bit sinister. Where is everybody? Who is shaping this sound? I'm still standing, alone,
in this dark concert venue, looking at all the gear, wondering where I am and whether or not a band will ever begin playing. And then, about 4 minutes in, a series of sinister bass notes begins to drone. I still can't see who is playing. The floor is sticky with discarded beer; there's a faint smell of old cigarette smoke. Somewhere in the distance, behind the dimly illuminated stage and jumbles of equipment, an orange light begins to pulse, and I see a wisp of smoke rising. This is accompanied by the unnatural sound of deep, gutteral groaning. Who, or what, is that?
After ten minutes of tension the atmosphere begins to lighten. A cool air falls from above, source unseen behind the fog that it carries. Theatre lights slowly begin pulsing through the cold fog in hues of blue and green.
Still, the warm orange glow from behind the stage equipment and instruments pulses slowly, accompanied by the single wisp of smoke rising in perfectly still air, source unseen behind the deserted instruments and
A light percussive sound begins to rattle irregularly. Behind the stage an image faintly forms on the drawn, black curtains, projected from some unseen source. It is a large greenhouse or factory, panes of glass framed by corroded metal, overgrown with ivy - much of it dried out. While the curtains upon which it shines are black, the image projects the sense of intense brightness. The sun shines in upon this ancient place, filled with the looming metal hulks of long-silent equipment, exact form and function
unknown. One can sense movement in the image, but can't discern the source - as if detected in peripheral vision.
For a small eternity, this old lumbering factory, brightly illuminated with a lonely yet contented sun, shifts in vision, static yet somehow moving imperceptively.
As I focus on this image, the empty concert fades from view until it is a mere backdrop. A truth that hides behind the vision.
The factory gives way to images of toil. The rhythm of centuries of human labour, of birth and death, growth and retreat, construction and decay, begins to drum.
And still, the orange glow pulses and the wisp of smoke rises.
With sudden force, the vision collapses and I am thrust back to the concert venue. Now, the stage is populated. A thin vocalist groans unintelligibly, holding a cigarette between the fingers of his hand, which wraps the microphone. It is clear that the pulsing glow and wisp of smoke come from, and always have come from, the cigarette he holds. A drummer works his kit, sweat dripping from his brow, hair in disarray. A bassist stands still, droning out the atmospheric backdrop. It is crowded in here. Hot, humid. The acrid smell of marijuana overwhelms the senses and a very faint hint of a shift in consciousness, perhaps imagined, begins to grow.
A guitarist takes center stage and begins riffing a thick monotonous rhythm. A heavyset man in front of me starts headbanging and flicking his sweat-soaked hair uncomfortably across my face. My mind starts wandering; intellectually contemplating the music instead of being transported by it. This has gradually transformed from a purely ambient and visual experience of solitude to a pleasant sludge of slow grinding riffs and rhythm. Little wails of controlled feedback flesh out the atmosphere and provide an almost vocal quality.
I am not particularly versed in doom and sludge metal. I've listened to a bit of Candlemass (which I love) and probably listened once or twice to a Sleep album and some Electric Wizard on spotify or youtube, so I do not have a lot to compare this to, but thus far it has been an enjoyable foray. I expected it to remain purely ambient, and the very slow (20+ minutes) transition to a sludgey metal sound was, perhaps not shocking, but definitely unanticipated. This expectation may have been setup by the context in which I heard of it - a thread on electro-music.com, describing it as a drone experience - setting the expectation that it was going to be a synth-based work.
As the experience continues, the feedback becomes more dominant, with the droning sludge bass fading into the background. An extremely pleasing noise, like the sound of a big industrial fan running, or of wind blowing across the opening of a large pipe, starts to take prominence, about 38 minutes into the album. I always find this sort of noise extremely peaceful and enjoy the transition. It seems that we may be leaving the world of structured sludge and going back to a more ambient setting. I'm starting to imagine the same visuals of factories, old equipment, bright sunshine, dried vegetation. The concert is shutting down; the crowd is leaving. The band is retreating. I am, once again, alone in this dark club venue. Was the experience a fantasy? Did some band really appear in this desolate place, play a single song that seemed to last an eternity, and then retreat? Are they still playing, but I am so entranced by the ambience that I no longer take notice of them? I still hear a progression of bass notes underlying the sound of feedback, of metal pipes dragging on concrete, of steam hissing out of high pressure valves. (A little voice in my head mutters "The inside of my head is like a cliche urban-exploration slideshow!", but I make no apologies for I find the symbolism of deserted factories to be very powerful. From the perspective of a single person, industrial factories represent immutability - monuments of concrete and steel that once were powerful, and still resist the passage of time. Yet such things are, on a more geoloogical scale, as fragile and transient as fall leaves - subject to the changing directions of civilization, changing economies, changing technologies, and the passage of time - so they sit deserted, overgrown, rusting, and slowly crumbling.)
About 50 minutes in, the sound is completely replaced by a whirring high pitched drone. I think about my own mortality and, reminiscing about urban exploration, the time I opened an unidentified large metal door and was greeted by a horrific chemical smell that made me immediately think of cancerous death.
All said, I'm glad I listened to this. This style of music is well suited to visualizing, introspecting, and drawing associations.