The Helen Scarsdale Agency – HMS064 – 6th May 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

As William Burroughs said of his collaboration with Brion Gysin, The Third Mind, ‘No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible force which may be likened to a third mind’. This wasn’t an entirely original concept, as he was referencing Napoleon Hill’s self-help book Think and Grow Rich, published in the 1930s. Self-help books are notorious for dispensing band advice and convincing the incapable that they’re capable of anything, but there’s a powerful shred of truth in this nugget: collaboration can – although there are absolutely no guarantees – throw open portal and new horizons and unlock unexpected avenues and whole worlds of potential. That more or less all of my attempts at collaboration have swiftly ended in failure – or, more accurately, fallen apart without producing anything more than a few paragraphs at best – probably says more about me than collaboration or my collaborators, but then when things have worked out… Yes, they’ve delivered. When it happens, it really happens. You can’t force or predict ‘gelling’: it simply happens, or it doesn’t, and when it does, alchemy ensues. You tend to find that strengths and weaknesses interlock, and all bases are covered, to use a poor assemblage of cliches.

The accompanying text for the third production from the Stelzer/Murray project says that it ‘hits a sweet spot of slippery, industrial occultation that harkens back to an almost forgotten period of music from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Think Cranioclast, Arcane Device, Phauss, Small Cruel Party, Organum, and pretty much everything from the Quiet Artworks label… Exquisitely composed and overtly nocturnal without ever falling into the tropes of dark ambient and with plenty of gestures, signals, and threats that allude to any number of allegorically inclined processes (i.e. tape manipulation, time-delay accumulation, electro-acoustic minimalism, etc.).’

No question, despite their apparent absence of recollection of the actual process, Stelzer and Murray are the perfect foils for one another. Alchemy clearly has ensued – but make no mistake, this is some seriously dark alchemy, conjuring thick, black clouds of lung-clogging smoke that drifts, chokes, and suffocates.

On Commit, the atmosphere is dark, dank, doomy. The album is structured over two sides with the two parts of the title track, clocking in at around nine minutes apiece occupying side one before the nineteen-minute gloomfest that is ‘The House is Coming from Inside the Call’ smogging blurrily all over side two. The two parts of ‘Commit’ are darkly intense. They rumble and drone, groan and grind. There ae slow swells of cymbal, and a distant clicking, glitching that pulses time on ‘Commit 2’

is ‘The House is Coming from Inside the Call’ is sparse yet intense, and manifests as a series of movements over its duration. The atmosphere is heavy and oppressive, and the noise builds – and it is indeed noise that builds: it starts off as light drone and evolves into a thundering blast of grinding noise, clattering clanks of machinery and a howling siren that warns of danger, of imminent doom. You want to run for cover, to tale refuge, but there’s no escape and no shelter: thirteen minutes in and it’s built to a gut-churning, punishing churn of industrial noise, with clattering spanners and metal grating against metal.

In the dingy realms of dark ambient, Commit is a strong piece of work. It is dark, and dense, and intense. It possesses an unforgiving density, and it only gets darker and denser as it progresses. It’s an immersive and well-realised work, but Christ, is it bleak.

AA

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