Cut Worms – Breath Mule

Posted: 10 March 2021 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Opa Loka Records – 5th March 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Breath Mule is the third album for Dutch multi media artist Richard van Kruysdijk under the moniker Cut Worms, and after a gap of over three years, completes a trilogy along with Lumbar Fist (2016) and Cable Mounds (2017).

As the accompanying blurb outlines, ‘Cut Worms’ sound palette is firmly rooted in the lower frequencies’, detailing how ‘As the droney, cinematic tracks evolve, their slowly unravelling, gritty sounds evoke the audio equivalent of brutalist architecture: Concrete walls of sound that are as majestic as they are elementary, yet intrinsically detailed when examined with a magnifying glass.’

The majority of the tracks are long, and not a lot really happens, meaning that there is time given for each composition to breathe and explore the tones and textures in full detail. The low-booming opener, ‘Slug Sirup’ sounds like a ship’s horn sounding out over the miles through a dense and played back at half speed. First distant, it grows in volume, but little else happens for a very long time. And then, somehow, more than nine minutes has evaporated, and drifted into the slow-booming drone of ‘Come Lightly’. There isn’t much light about it: it’s dank and ominous.

There are crackling creaks enveloped in the dense, crawling fog of ‘Cinder Locks’. The sound is thick, heavy, immersive, and yes, it is ominous but at the same time, I find a certain comfort in such vast expanses of thunderous ambience. The more condensed the sound, the more it billows like smoke, the more impenetrable and more solid it becomes, the more it feels somehow like something that’s a source of a certain warmth and security. The same is true of the throbbing ‘Denmark Spiral’, but the thin, trilling wisps of Girly Totem’, while more overtly and quintessentially ‘ambient’ are somehow more difficult to settle in with – particularly in context.

The darkness really comes to the fore on the final track, the eleven-and-a-half-minute ‘Slashed Hostage’. The title provides a fair indication of its weight, and it begins with a low, slow, oscillating throbbing hum, one of those drones that nags at the senses like a far-off helicopter that you scan the sky for but can’t see. Again, it’s a slow-builder: the sound expands, louder, denser, but no different, and this is where it really starts to get into your head and burrow into your skull. It’s along this journey that the slow-moving drone expands to a different level of immersion, and when the swell tapers down, hushed vocals echo menacingly, too low in the mix to decipher the actual words, a poem by the enigmatic Italian composer Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988), who wrote surrealist works in French. Because. That said, Scelsi is an interesting choice, as a composer who, according to his Wikipedia entry, ‘composed music based around only one pitch, altered in all manners through microtonal oscillations, harmonic allusions, and changes in timbre and dynamics, as paradigmatically exemplified in his Quattro pezzi su una nota sola (‘Four Pieces on a single note’, 1959)’.

On Breath Mule, Cut Worms offers more than a single note, but then again, there are no notes: only thick, swirling billows of sound and layers of drone on drone. It grips you, immerses you, hold you… and it’s not unpleasant, as long as you don’t struggle.

AA

CW-M013-digipack-3P_1CD-6-x-8mm-z-kieszonka V7

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