Silencers by SonologystRelease date: April 30, 2018
Label: Cold Spring
Raffaele Pezzella is a busy man. When he’s not recording under the name Sonologyst he’s in charge of the Unexplained Sounds Group. Or the sub label Eighth Tower Records. Or running the weekly delve into all things underground and experimental that is the Sunday night Recognition Test. Suffice to say his plates are full and spinning. Still, he has somehow managed to find the time to concoct one of the most suspicious and mistrustful records to be released so far this year.
Released on Cold Spring, Silencers is a very solitary experience. It’s comparable to being trapped in a diving bell, a space suit, or an isolation tank. Just the tempered sound of your own ragged breathing for company. Then, out of the desolation, sounds and images emerge. Uniquely translated and experienced by each participant. Sometimes it is soothing and reassuring. Other times paranoid and panicked. Silencers is a subtle and vivid journey capable of rousing previously unexplored thought patterns or lulling its listeners into oneiric realms.
One of at least two artists releasing music titled ‘Singularity’ in 2018, Sonologyst has opted for a gentler, more exploratory approach than Mr. Hopkins. This opening track feels like sending searching scientific sensors out into the vast unknown of space. Radar, LIDAR, sounders, and radiometers, are all optimistically enlisted with the aim of receiving a response. Pezzella represents these via drifting drones and emitted pulses that sound similar to an echoed drip rising out of a well. Feedback taps out a morse code message and sonic space warps and rolls as if every inch of the vast dark is being scrutinised. It is hopeful and somehow subaquatic. The great below mirroring the endless above.
On tracks like ‘Nocturnal Anomalies’ and ‘Monotape’ the sounds are of a more mechanical affair and they shift between distorted grumbles and viscous waves that enter the skull and inflate, increasing the pressure in a similar way to sinking deep or soaring high. Bass throbs jar against bright pings and language is garbled away. Vibrant whirrs layer up in a manner that is reminiscent of scouting probes facing up against machinery that is too dwarfing to comprehend.
The title track continues this foreboding tone with a background of eerie constructions and electronic swoops that seem to suggest green floodlights sweeping across high security fencing. Which is fitting as this album often feels as if it is ever so carefully revealing tidbits of information, enough to keep us interested and agog, but also holding plenty back behind a protected perimeter. It’s the aural equivalent of gaining access to a top secret dossier only to find that 75% of it has been redacted.
‘Close Circuit’ and ‘Anomorfismo’ are all searing drones and squealing synthetic sounds. On occasions the combinations of distorted squelches, scraped metal, and vacant bleeps seem to verge on the sounds of swine torture. But this is all smothered by the roar of what must be a dominating roller compactor. And with ‘Deep Black Programs’ we get a short, foreboding, creep into a gloomy subterranean dungeon.
All of this electronic and electro-acoustic experimentation paints an impressionistic selection of tones that puts us in mind of conspiracy, of paranoia, of something just outside our reach. But it is on the final two tracks that Sonologyst really gets to the core of this record’s subject material. ‘Secret Societies. The Kennedy Speech’ and ‘NASA Classified Tapes’ both utilise John Carpenter bass lines with conspiratorial audio snippets from NASA and from Kennedy calling for transparency within government and the assistance of journalists to help achieve this. We also get recordings of testimonies that indicate that Robert Kennedy was well aware of the existence of extraterrestrials. Some of these are unfortunately too distorted to make out the specifics of but the sentiment is clear – there are secrets in this world that the average civilian is not privy to. Those that find themselves with this information are likely to be visited by the Silencers that the album title refers to.