Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back in the saddle with dark down under...

Well, we aren't dead here just yet, and no, we haven't sworn off music for the monastery. John and I were both born at the tail end of Gen. X, and we'd like to live up to that reputation.......

Having put my Evan Dorkin comics aside for now, let me pick up a, not new, but very interesting 7". A while ago now, Southern Lord put out a great slab of little vinyl that was a split between ambient/suicide, outsider black metal legend Striborg, and an unknown ambient black horde called Scurshahor who are only described across the internet as "shrouded in mystery"....

I first heard tracks from this split on War Goat Radio. Dimitri was so impressed with it, that I believe he played the entire record. And I'll have to admit, after hearing these psychotic hypnoses, so was I.

Starting with the Striborg side, I think this is some of Sin Nanna's best work to date. At just two songs, I like it much better than the recently released Black Desolate Winter/Depressive Hibernation 2LP (which is not to say that I don't very much like that album as well). It begins with a slow, ominous, jangly guitar riff, which gives way to pure black metal pounding, before reverting back into a dark ambient echo chamber in another dimension. Aptly titled Psychedelic Nightmare, it certainly is indeed. What I like about this and the next track, Syncopated Pandemonium, is that they get right to the point. Black Desolate Winter actually takes an entire side before it starts "going somewhere," but with this 7" we are beamed into Sin Nanna's bizarre ireality instantly. Going back to Psychedelic Nightmare, once it locks in it's laying deep in echos upon echos, reverb, pure white ambiance, and skittering in and out, random sounds. It finally builds to the height of night terror breakdown with bubbling cauldrons, sonic cries, and a clear but initially un-discernable voice that you can finally comprehend saying "I was never born" before falling back into obscurity.

After a single beat, the record pounds into Syncopated Pandemonium. The tempo overall is much faster in this track, but it's hard to tell exactly where it's falling due to all the ambient discordance mentioned above. Except this time, the vocals are even more distorted and buried, as if creatures from beyond were desperately trying to come through. There is much the same bouncing between slow and fast tempos that is found on Nightmares. However this makes the two tracks less repetitive, and more suited for each other. Finally the waves of sound and fury roll down the tide until they crash upon the shore leaving the listener quiet and alone, back in the real world.

The Scurshahor side is only one long song (no, not nearly as long as other ambient black metal songs, but none the less.....). Fittingly titled Malicious Resplendence, it definitely sounds as though they and Sin Nanna both escaped from the same part of the sea in hell. The vocals' sound and thick laying are very similar to the other side, but there is something harsher here. Not so much being swayed in the tide, as being drug along the bottom, over the rocks. The deep layers here are rumbles, and groans; the sounds coming in and out are clanging metal. Multiplying and dividing all of this keep the track moving along, and give it a kinetic dynamism. I would not at all be surprised to find out that these mysterious heathens had a history in the noise scene, and this definitely seems to come from that sphere. Once these grim demons feel that you have been sufficiently put through the wringer, the cruel din drops away to leave the listener with one long and peaceful, soothing tone, which takes you gently to land before dropping you off back in your own unfortunate life.

This flat, black, escape pod stayed on my turntable for days when I first got it. I'd say a must have for collectors, and a great gateway drug for newcomers. I'm fairly certain that it's still available through Southern Lord, so grab it already.

No comments: