Posts Tagged ‘Wreaths’

Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings – 2nd April 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

This is one of those albums you can judge by its cover – and title. Golden Threads From Riven Rot continues to trace the same themes of death and decay as its Inverted Grim Mill predecessor, The Sea To Which The Body Is Drawn.

The liner notes promise Wreaths’ ‘signature swells of fragile strings [which] drift and fluctuate throughout, laying down a thick atmosphere that draws the listener in. While there’s a swamp of sadness to be sinking in, there’s also a hopeful tone.’

The hope isn’t always immediately apparent, and it’s the bleakness of eternity stretching out with nothing to grasp hold of that dominates the album’s eight pieces, the majority of which extend beyond the six-minute mark, giving them room to fully immerse and envelop the listener. The compositions are rich in texture, and the long, slow, droning swells of sound – not notes, not chords, just dense, yet at the same time wispy and intangible, like layers of smoke or fog hanging in the air. The grand sonic vista of ‘The Throes of Them’ is defined by a slowly pulsating rhythmic chime, while ‘That’s How Buildings Burn Down’ grows deeper, darker, denser as it progresses, a rumbling lower-end drone sonorous and heavy beneath the creeping stealth of the top layer, a thin, stratospheric drone that twinkles and shimmers.

The theme of decay dominates the bleakly suffocating smog of ‘Words Come to Rot in the Throat’, the title conjuring the sensation of all the thoughts we fail to articulate as the rise and catch in our throats and remain unuttered, for fear, for shame, for cowardice. Where do those words go? Sometimes, we swallow them back down, but something remains lodged and decaying as those recollections return and manifest as angst and self-loathing. Here, the sounds quiver tremulously as they linger, lost, directionless in the darkness.

Originally self released as a digital album, this CD reissue of Golden Threads From Riven Rot includes the lengthy final ‘lost’ track, ‘A Cloak For Rotting In’. Where it’s been and for how long is unclear, but it’s a sixteen-minute expanse of cold sonic desert. Strings scrape and whine as they suffer in quiet solitude and a sepulchral chill descends. It’s a gloomy, dolorous affair, steeped in sadness.

After Golden Threads From Riven Rot has drifted into nothingness, it leaves you cold, shaken, somehow empty and adrift. The prospect of moving feels beyond attainment, and there is nothing you want to do or listen to afterwards, but sit and bask in the faded silence.

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Panurus Productions / Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings – 22nd March 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

It feels like I’ve been bombarded with spectral oceans lately, what with Teeth of the Sea’s Wraiths and now The Sea to Which the Body is Drawn by Wreaths, the project of Northumberland based artist Michael R. Donaldson, which utilises ‘four track experimentation, aged equipment, drones and field recordings to build haunting soundscapes’ lands in my inbox.

And such soundscapes are precisely what Wreaths deliver here. ‘Sea Lulled | A Spire Remains’ is what you might call a ‘classic’ example of contemporary ambient music, and opens the album in the most spectacularly understated style. It’s background, bit it’s also deep, layered, and multi-faceted.

Listening to the vast washes of sound in context of the album’s title, I become preoccupied with drowning. So often, I’ll describe ambient works as enveloping’ and ‘immersive’, but what is it like to be truly immersed?

‘Sorries’ hangs on a desolate, metallic drone that scrapes and swirls for some nine-and-a-half minutes. Ambient as it is, with soft piano notes ringing out into the air, the dominant textures and tones are harsh mid-range.

It’s a contrast to the titles, which allude to the soft, damp, organic, and also tell dark, depressing tales in Twitter-flash form: ‘Her Ornate Gown Marred by the Sea’; ‘Tides of Soil and Loam, Tides of Wreck and Ruins’; ‘Fell Foul of the Shallows’ – these all tell bleak and harrowing tales in their own rights, oblique hints of tales like tsunamis, tales like the flooding of Mardale Green beneath Haweswater Reservoir in Cumbia, and the creation of Ladybower Reservoir with Derwent village’s church spire rising above the water for some years after the village was submerged.

Water always wins, and even man’s harnessing of water is but finite, a power held on a knife edge.

The final track, the eighteen-minute ‘Timbers Sodden’ is a low, slow drone that hovers and drifts, conjuring the smell and feel of dank dampness, the sensation of slow decay. And herein lies the power of Wreaths: The Sea to Which the Body is Drawn is an album of atmosphere and evocation. It celebrates the transient, the fleeting, and conjures the ebb and flow, the mists and slow tidal pulls to create a listening experience that draws the mind as the sea draws the body.

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Wreaths - The Sea