Cruel Nature Records – 11th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

We’re in eerie electronics territory here. Haunting, creepy. Suspenseful. There’s something of a vintage sci-fi feel to this nightmarish trip, as gurgles and scrapes bibble up through swamps of whistling organ-like drones. It’s a dark record, but not because it relies on heavy drones, low, rumbling, doomy bass, hard volume or distortion: Folklore Of Despair worms its way into the psyche, prodding and poking stealthily into the recesses of the subconscious, gently rubbing and scratching at those small, nagging uncertainties that stem from the fear of the unknown. Whistles and bleeps intermingle with tense violin-type drones and quibbling analogue sounds, spooky, spectral notes and crashing crunches which disrupt the flow and create a different kind of tension, one that feels like things are going out of control and colliding on every side, a catastrophic nightmare where carks skid into one another as every third driver find their steering no longer works or their brakes have been cut. It’s disorientating, and the effect is so strong because everything about the album is so unpredictable.

There are no conventional structures here, or even any clear structures at all. Like the best suspense movies, the unexpected always occurs unexpectedly. The tense build-ups are often false markers, but then again, there’s not much letup in the tension, which they sustain and sustain, and your nerves are jangling because your gut tells you ‘something isn’t right’.

Things get really weird really fast: second track ‘Darkness is Driving the Machine of Debauchery’ is quite headfuck, as glitches and warping sounding like a stretched and buckled tape struggling to traverse over the heads. It squeaks and squeals and sounds as if whatever was recorded on the tape before is bleeding through, like voices from the other side – I’m reminded tangentially of the 7” containing sample recordings of voices from the ether that accompany Konstantin Raudive’s 1971 book, Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead (something that would feed into the theories expounded by William Burroughs on the tape experiments he conducted withy Brion Gysin).

An actual voice, murky, muffled, drifts, disembodied and strange through the creeping chords on ‘If the Forest Ate the Trees’, where the notes drift like fog, but there’s more to its being unsettling than that: there’s an otherness, a strangeness you can’t quite put your finger on, as if maybe the drifting fog in the graveyard scene has been filmed in reverse. It’s the fact it’s difficult to pinpoint that heightens the effect so.

Thunderous beats – distant, as if playing in a club three blocks away – pulse, deep, and bassy, on ‘Floral Patterned Gearshift’, and the sound is all but drowned out by the shrill, clamorous shrieking synapse-shattering tweets that flurry like a swarm of bats scurrying and flurrying. You have to fight the impulse to duck to avoid the aural assailants, invisible yet somehow tangible in the mind’s eye.

At times, everything simply collapses into chaotic cacophony. It’s hard to process, and ever harder to digest. Folklore Of Despair is a complex and uncomfortable album, which is nothing the title hints it may be. I’m not even entirely certain what it is, but it leaves you feeling jittery, jumpy and on edge.

AA

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