Black Sun Productions – Toilet Chant / Dies Juvenalis

Posted: 1 July 2016 in Albums
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Black Sun Productions – Toilet Chant / Dies Juvenalis

Christopher Nosnibor

Self-styled ‘artivists’ Black Sun Productions had already established a reputation for themselves in Switzerland and Italy, but found a much wider audience after they were discovered by Coil in the early noughties. Touring their performance piece ‘Plastic Spider Thing’ on tour with Coil, they also engaged in collaboration with the seminal industrialists and were signed to their label, Ekstaton.

These two releases – reissues of albums dating back to the mid-2000s and previously released on CD-R on their own Anarcocks label, are interesting for a number of reasons, with the fact that they are Black Sun Productions albums being an obvious starting point. That they’re receiving their first vinyl and digital releases means this rather clandestine work may begin to filter through to a wider audience and be accessible to fans who’ve simply been unable to track down the originals. The choice of these two albums is a shade curious, in that they represent the first and last of the Anarcocks releases, with four other releases separating them.

Given the range of media they’ve worked in and pushed the parameters of, it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to learn that they’re fairly challenging. That said, these are not brutal or ugly albums. Musically, they’re certainly interesting, and will hold inevitable appeal for fans of dark ambient, avant-garde and music from the more experimental end of the industrial spectrum. I’d argue that true industrial is experimental by its very nature, in the tradition of Throbbing Gristle, and, continuing that trajectory through Peter Christopherson, Coil. And fans of coil will be keen to note that ‘E2 = Tree3’ on the Toilet Chant album features the vocals of ‘Jhonn Balance’ which will make the first of these two albums of particular interest.

Toilet Chant (2004) may sound as though it should have humorous connotations, but the title track which opens the album, but its haunting whale song echoes are far from ribald. Distant, rumbling percussion lumbers in the murky background. ‘Anarcocks Rising’ works on the interplay between unstructured rhythmic pulsations, heaving groans and rolling, bass-orientated, notes. Synths flicker and scrawl, their sparking electronics bringing a starkly manufactured aspect to the more natural sounding sonic body over which they expand. It’s alien and other-wordly, as is the aforementioned ‘E2 = Tree 3’, as thunderous roaring solar winds blast over exotic, eastern-influenced instrumentation and shards of pulsing analogue fizz. The album builds tension across the six tracks, via the Curesque ‘Yesterday’s Dream’ and the spaced-out wibblesome tones of ‘Glüewürmilitanz, culminating in the thirteen-minute ‘Spermatic Cord’. An extended exercise in creating dark, weighty atmospherics, it’s an uncomfortable, queasy listen. Grating bass drones croak and funnel. It’s a dark, insular experience.

 

 

Black Sun Productions - Toilet Chant

2007’s Dies Juvenalis contains just three tacks, and immediately a different tone is apparent. A swelling organ sound screeds and undulates against pulsating beats on ‘Percettive Riflessioni’. The experimental leanings of Toilet Chant are still in evidence, but the focus here is on dynamics, with dramatic changes in volume and the tonal contrasts adding depth and texture. The presence of definite, regular rhythms also marks a significant change, with elements of Krautrock and psychedelia informing the sound. This was 2007, remember: no-one was digging Krautrock or doing synth-based psychedelia in 2007. Busy xylophones weave the fabric of the title track, while a deliberate, slow, dubby bass beat leads ‘Veneration XXX’ into glitchy, stuttering drum ‘n’ bass territory, while disembodied voices bend and melt over the stammering fills.

Black Sun Prooductions - Dies Juvenalis

 

 

I would lean towards Toilet Chant as being my preferred album for listening purposes, Dies Juvenalis offers a greater push on innovation and musical progression. In tandem, they provide an intriguing documentation of the workings of a unique act.

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