CD: Angle.Rec A.R.05.02 [2004]
Ltd x 500 numbered copies

Mem Na'ught
Turye es Undas Urmae
Fouen Lzsir
Qui Wuen
Kjeordiena Rosicrucianae Secretaes
Turye Undas Fiurmae

From The Museum Of Sleep
Hemophilic Root Plow
When We Had Skin

A few years back I was really into Sweden's Cold Meat Industry stable, and the gloomy artwork and design on this new unusually-formatted new CD release from Canadian label Angle.Rec took me straight back to the days of such pioneering dark-ambient/ritual/power-electronics compilations as "...And Even Wolves Hid Their Teeth" and "In The Butcher's Backyard". I say unusually-formatted because it's a split album, in a hand-numbered run of 500, with Monstrare - one persona of versatile American
noiseman Cordell Klier - presenting six tracks, and Ad Noiseam's Wilt contributing four.

The sounds on offer aren't a million miles away from the Karmanik Family's home in the frosty Swedish wastelands either. Monstrare kick things off with 'Mem Na'Ught', a textbook dark-ambient soundclash, pitting the chittering of staccato electronic glitches against the somnolent reverberation of bass-heavy oscillators. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of Klier's contributions. 'Fouen Lszir' works particularly well, evoking images of vast underground caverns filled with the incessant toiling of unholy mechanisms, and recalls some of the less melodic parts of Coil's lost soundtrack to
"Hellraiser" (rest in peace, Balance); the percussive pulse, throb, grind of 'Kjeordiena Rosicrucianae Secretaes' recalls this suggestion of machine-worship later on. Elsewhere, the soundscapes tend to be much less regimented and much more organic and improvisational, spacing the 'beats' further apart and giving more prominence to clangorous sheets of metallic sound and distorted freeform synthesiser voices.

Wilt's half starts off fairly gently, appropriately enough, with a track entitled 'From The Museum Of Sleep', whose near-Lovecraftian name rests happily on its resonant arrangement of sounds evoking unfamiliar shapes moving dimly in the void. 'Hemophilic Root Plow' on the other hand brings us face to face with the horrors hinted at before. A dented, mis-shapen funeral knell tolls repetitively over slabs of clipped low-frequency rumbles, punctuated by occasional high-pitched screeches, only to be replaced in its rhythmic duties halfway through by enormous percussive impacts that sound like sarcophagus lids crashing shut. 'When We Had Skin' is much more ambient in form, if still noisy in construction, introducing the first hints of tonality in sonorous synth pads that bring to mind Cold Meat stalwarts like Raison D'Etre and Ildfrost. 'Unrest' starts off in a similar manner but moves through at least three distinct phases, with the dominating textures varying from a finely-detailed oscillator improvisation to a barrage of harsh rhythmic loops. The CD is brought to a close by an unexpected exclamation mark, a blast of noise recorded louder than the rest of the album in a wonderfully antisocial manner.

Glorious stuff if you like that sort of thing, and who wouldn't; yet the Cold Meat comparisons expose an inherent datedness in form and execution that remind you of just how conservative experimental music can be sometimes. There is enough texture and variation here to stave off accusations of predictability, yet one feels a pervading nostalgic familiarity that suggests that it's all been done before, more or less. The production on Monstrare's half gives it a slightly more up-to-date feel, and I've heard enough of Klier's other work to know he is capable of some fairly outlandish and non-referential stuff. The artwork, the sound palette, the track names and even the typefaces make me wonder if they've intentionally tried to recreate the golden (leaden?) age of dark ambient, and if this is the case, they've succeeded admirably.


[Monstrare] / [Wilt] / [Angle Rec]

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