Posts Tagged ‘Ritual’

Panurus Productions – 31st March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s always a pleasure to receive a new release from Panurus Productions, although that perhaps says as much about my perverse tastes as anything, since this cassette-only microlabel specialises in weird, obscure, dark and resolutely underground music. And this one’s a double cassette. So perhaps my pleasure is in torturing the self-loathing facet of my psyche, or perhaps it’s just that I’m wired to appreciate the way sound – and not necessarily songs, and not necessarily conventional melodies and structures – can convey meaning and be imbed with a subconscious resonance that taps into emotions by an alternative means. That’s the kind of pleasure I get from receiving a new release from Panurus: a pleasure that sets a certain churn in the pit of the stomach in anticipation of the dark delights it will offer up.

It’s also something of a pleasure to read the accompanying press releases, which are more or less reviews in themselves, brimming with descriptions not only of the sound, but the sensation. Here, we’re promised a work on which ‘pneumatic pulses crunch over electronic drones, as bestial grunts and gurgles wallow in the synthetic murk. Wordless siren calls weave through the textures, shifting between forlorn and beckoning. The vocal sounds of Möbius and electronics 1727 at times distinct and at others indistinguishable, giving us a sonic insight into something we are not meant to see. This is the soundtrack to grainy footage of cult activity – to newspaper clippings of strange happenings and missing persons.’ I feel as if my work is done, even though it’s only just beginning. It’s a challenge: where do you go from there?

Down, is the answer on this occasion. Down. And further down. Burning the Black Candles is a journey deep underground, and begins with a rapid descent into darkness, and a cold, paranoid space. You can no longer trust your senses: the very air will prod you and whisper painful truths and lies as you flinch and question your mind.

The title track leads the listener deep underground to a dark, dank place. Subterranean earthworks grind, slow-moving, tectonic resonance shuddering. Haunting, disembodied voices echo through distant caverns, echoes of lost souls enacting obscure rituals. It drones, groans, moans and grumbles on for a full twenty-three minutes.

‘A Censer Hanging from Chains’ continues in the same vein: so much so that the tracks bleed not one another in a seeping morass of swirling murk. Dank air gusts thick and heavy through shafts and tunnels, a purgatorial labyrinth.

It’s a low, slow, bowel-churning rumble of a drone that forges the fabric of ‘Smoke Slowly Filling the Chamber’: the title is evocative and the sound dense and suffocating. There’s a noise, far away, echoes of shouting, possibly torture, but it soon vanishes, and all that’s left is the buzzing low-frequency flutter. It’s an oppressive, chest-tightening experience, and by the end of its twenty-minutes, it’s slowed to a shuddering crackle, like a failing heartbeat. Then stops.

The final piece, ‘GinruB’, which isn’t quite ‘burning’ backwards is so barely there ambient it’s practically subliminal. And yet it radiates a dark presence that over the course of twenty-five minutes burrows deeper down, and into the listener’s psyche to unsettling effect. It rumbles, it crackles. It burns. Monastic voices and mournful drones rise and reverberate a way off, but the ceremony feels like a lament, a funeral ode, as the end draws closer. And closer. And then… nothing.

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16th June 2019

Of course I was always going to be sold on an album with a title like Southern Phlegm. I mean, what’s not to like? Kadaitcha’s third release straddles ambient, drone, industrial, and power electronics to deliver four tracks driven by throbbing pulsating grooves welded to repetitive, cyclical guitar lines, and rent with the gnarliest, nastiest treble-shredded distorted vocals.

The first, ‘Phagocide’ pumps away for over nine minutes. The guitar and synths form a messy sonic fusion, a thick mass of distortion while wibbling space-rock blasts of analogue send blurred neon arcs through the heavily-grained backdrop like shooting stars. ‘Sewerbound’ is appropriately titled as it plunges deeper into impenetrable murk. It’s dominated by clattering percussion, the edges distorted and decayed, while screeding noise howls a vortex of sonic agony. Frequencies collide to create an endless flux of aural incompatibility. Everything is distorted, dirty, there’s malice in every note. The lyrics are impossible to decipher from amidst the sonic blitzkrieg, but there’s nothing about the delivery that suggests there’s any comfort or kindness on offer here.

Slow, brooding ambience builds an unsettling atmosphere during the opening minutes of ‘Datura’, before the overloading guitar crashes in. It’s got the low-end distortion of Sunn O))), but grinds away at a repetitive motif with the bludgeoning brutality of Swans. It’s a full-on kick to the diaphragm.

Closing off, ‘Vulpine Sacrifice’ arrives almost by stealth, a snaking bassline strolls in slow and slow, a stop/start stammer gives it an almost hesitant feel. Circuits fizz, crackle and hiss all over the place, before the final two or three minutes find the conglomeration of elongated hums coalesce to create something approximating ‘music’, akin to a swelling organ drone. But you couldn’t exactly call this brief moment of musicality that draws out to the fade the light at the end of the tunnel: it’s low, slow, and ominous and seems, if anything, to point toward another darkened door which opens onto stairs leading to an eternal abyss.

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Kadaitcha – Southern Phlegm

Peaceville – 21st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Christ, this is fucking dark. The video which accompanies ‘Abysmal Channelling’ (the album’s bonus track, perversely enough), depicts scenes of an occult ritual, complete with burning incense, singing bowls, self-mutilation, frenzied bell-ringing, pools of blood, all against a backdrop of murky, mangled industrial noise.

Describing themselves as ‘blackened noise occultists’ US act T.O.M.B. (that’s Total Mechanical Occultic Blasphemy) have been going for 18 years now, and have, not surprisingly, remained deep, deep underground. Positively chthonic, in fact.

Fury Nocturnus is their thirteenth release, and while containing thirteen tracks (plus the aforementioned bonus cut), it contains no tunes, and the truth is, it’s very difficult to really establish what the hell’s going on amidst the dense sonic fog. Yes, they’ve fully embraced the

production values of early black metal classics – and it’s perhaps worth noting that Hellhammer, drummer of infamous Norwegian black metal trailblazers Mayhem is a key contributor to this album. This does mean, of course, that the guitars, drums, vocals and dark ambience which pervades every corner of the album is obfuscated by a thick, grainy coating of dinginess. A number of the tracks end abruptly, and there’s a distinctly low-budget, ‘cassette’ feel to this release. But then of course there is. And while occasionally grinding riffs seep through, there are no tunes, no overt structures and for the most part, it’s a seething morass of dark, dark noise cut through with tribal percussion.

Sometimes, there’s a very fine line between portentous and pretentious, grand art and derangement that borders on the dangerously deviant. It’s not entirely clear where T.O.M.B. sit, other than on a throne of bones in a temple hewn into some inaccessible rock face. They’re very much keeping it real in their approach to the music-making process: when creating the field recording soundscapes which feature on Fury Nocturnus, they report that certain necromantic instrumentation was used: human and animal bone, cemetery crypt doors, tombstones and coffins, and audio EVP equipment. I’m inclined to take them seriously if only because I don’t fancy the idea of being the next sacrificial offering, and crucifixion is, I understand, quite a painful way to go. I’m certainly not about to snort with derision about the cliché of the snarling vocals ranting about Christianity on ‘Hoards Rise Now, or any of the album’s many demonic invocations.

It’s not a fun or pleasurable experience, and protracted exposure to this dank, demonic, deviant, and deeply sinister noise feels like an act of self-flagellation. Needless to say, I’d take it over Justin Bieber, Kanye or Katy Perry any day.

 

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