Articles by Jon Buckland
Due out early next year, The Quiet Earth is a tinder box of curiosities.
Here we have an album that shifts from jubilant hip hop instrumentals into the depths of a funeral dirge before ascending into a post-rock pomp.
These are not sweet sounds of hope and survival. This is the grainy submission of Begotten. The clawing hands of wretched scum. The swallowing of black tar and the breathing of piled earth.
Perched precariously between the constant sweeps of Lubomyr Melnyk and the atonal work of Steve Reich, Baber has captured a soothing set of sounds that show technical dexterity whilst embodying a cheerfulness that is neither mawkish or saccharine.
There is something inherently watery in Ólafur Arnalds’ sounds. That is not to say weak, but dappled and flowing. Of natural rhythms and glinting possibility. It’s also music that is aware of an unruly danger. A fluid threat. And in that lies the trickle of melancholy, of potential fear, that pervades re:member.
‘Redux’… seems to call out to comrades in loss. It extends a hand, an arm, a shoulder and whispers that you too can be pulled through this period and, in taking that hand, you will also help with the weight that seems so essential to her sounds. She wants us to know that, from this dark state, light can be found and it can be reached. And we can go on this journey together.
It threatens to build into something explosive, something soaring but, like an MDMA-fuelled orgasm, the payoff seems to always be just out of reach.
Fortunately Hecker hasn’t just nipped back to turn the volume up though. He and Matt Colton (of Alchemy Mastering) have approached these sessions with fresh ears and an apparent eagerness to find new rhythms and melodies buried within those original dronescapes. They tease out emotive leads from sunken dirges and, in the cases of ‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Over Production’ and ‘7000 Miles’, beef up the noise to marrow-loosening levels.
This is one to immerse yourself in. It is easy to disappear within the folds of time. Feel them slip away like lost memories and dreamt lives. It’s a haunting journey before the aforementioned redemptive final piece changes gear, gently lifts these ephemeral wraiths and bestows them to sacrosanct and luminous worlds beyond our prosaic comprehension.
From start to finish this record is transcendental. It lifts, it gifts wings. It lightens loads and massages worries to the peripheries of the mind.
This isn’t music that either knows of or wants a safe space. It’s vanquishing. It’s cathartic. It’s working through its mental passengers. It’s also the paranoid rave of the avant garde.
This is music of escapism. Of thoughts drifting from the concrete surroundings, peeking over a grey wall and daubing it with the colours of the mind.
Somewhere amidst the punishing snivel of Uniform and the sheer oppression of The Body lies a decaying core that contains just enough light to illuminate their tragedies with a sliver of hope. And it’s this unexpected culet that elevates this record above already stratospheric expectations.
Pascal Savy has also added an enticing human element to these towering structures of sound. What might initially appear as great forbidding slabs of immutable vibrations, the work of a fastidious architect constructing cloud-bothering edifices, reveals upon repeated listens a subtle emotional thread that transcends the cold totality of fatalism.
We enter into Hval’s haze through a concealed door of gossamer pop. She plies us with gulps of honey and mollifies us into Somnus’ cradling arms. Encourages us to trust in her orchestration and wherever it leads. And she proves to be a fascinating and genial guide, ushering us into worlds of depth, understanding, and joy.
Silencers is a subtle and vivid journey capable of rousing previously unexplored thought patterns or lulling its listeners into oneiric realms.
This feels like holding on to separating chain links on a fairground ride that is spinning faster and faster, the centrifugal force sending us further out, right to the edge of the parabola.
Chords which sway from blissful to distraught rhythmically build towards an intense melancholic crescendo entirely devoid of percussion only to peter out before flailed arms can demand their erroneous entitlements. Encapsulating in one, surely not but apparently so, improvised instance the transcendent power of music to forge an emotional experience and add to our ever developing personas.
If the band’s name merely alludes to connotations of religious rites then the music fully insinuates a world of clandestine ceremonies carried out in reverb-waking halls slung with red drapes and lit by the flicker of candlelight.
Drones of calamitous power and resonance rise alongside and slice through one another. Billowing like a hungry, grey smokestack coughing molten embers of dense noise out into the atmosphere.
Their name brings to mind clashing ideas of groaned apathy, writhing sadness, and unendurable ecstasy. All of which help to inform the post-punk soundscape of these Sub Pop debutants. Their music sounds like the endless summer twinkle of Los Angeles brushing up against those dark Mulholland nights.