CD: Audio Immolation Industries 03 [2006]

Smoke Sky Horizon
Down and Down and Drown
Saquasohuh Rising
Straightjacket Sonata
Justice, Just Ice, Just Us
Chroma Polaris
The Severed Wings of a Killing Bird
To Mock a Killing Bird (Remix)

"And now, the end is here and so I face the final curtain"... great words Frank, but everyone prefers the Sid Vicious version. Here then is my swansong for Aural Pressure. My last ever review. I deliberately left Sky Burial to the end. The reason. Michael Page. The man behind the Fire In The Head project. It was thanks to Aural Pressure that I first encountered this artist. Through many reviews the artist and I occasionally agreed to disagree on some of the aspects of my writing regarding his music, but he was always tolerant of my poor writing techniques and a pleasure to communicate with. I'm going to miss him. Boy did his FITH releases cause me many sleepless nights. When the first Sky Burial CDR release came out on the Housepig record label [read review here] I, more than anyone, was pleased to see Michael finally diverse himself away from his more usual extreme power noise output. Not that there's anything wrong with that form of music, but it can drag you down eventually with its relentless barrage on the senses. Sky Burial was different. Sky Burial was a sonic revelation and one I whole heartily embraced.

Sky Burial is, in reality and so far, a dark ambient / drone / experimental sound sculpture side project. A world apart from FITH. "Spectrehorse" is the first official CD to be released and Michael composed the music, and I quote: "using field recordings from temples and caves in Laos with additional material from various studio sessions between 1996 to the present". Michael has that written large on his website so I for one will not question any of those facts.

The nine tracks sees Michael on fire playing around and manipulating sounds into ever increasingly complex patterns within a variety of different ways. He inhibits a sort of netherworld of darkest spatial ambience... but isn't afraid to introduce a touch of melody, post rock or even, gulp, old fashioned noise into the mix to bring these sounds to a fitting climax. Whilst the drone purists may baulk at some of the extravagances he employs, the rest of us can but admire the fruits of his labour. The spectacle of claustrophobic entrapment is never far away as he toys and plays around with the senses. There is this undeniable feeling of cold isolation that is prevalent and cannot be shaken off. An ominous and stark realisation that forms a knot in the stomach as the music repeatedly builds in intensity. That isn't to say that "Spectrehorse" isn't without its lighter, more serene, moments. Even then though you feel this is an illusion and you patiently wait for the true evil, that must surely lurk beneath, to be revealed in all its ugly glory.

I generally hate comparisons to this artist / group or that, although I have been guilty of doing this myself in the past, but to say someone sounds like someone else is a disservice to all the artists concerned. After all Michael, like all artists, didn‚t deliberately set out to mimic someone‚s style. He created what he's created. The fact it falls within certain musical spectrums is neither here nor there and so comparisons become invalid and inconsequential. Treat "Spectrehorse" for what it is. A glorious, and mostly sonically bleak, exhilarating musical adventure that is the other side of the coin to FITH by being far more accessible in every respect. I can but hope he continues down this path for many years to come.

My last ever end bit... and one I hope Jo keeps in. I would just like to say thanks. Thanks to all the artists like Michael, and everyone else, whose music, good and bad, I've had the rewarding experience of writing up. Thanks to the labels for supplying the music in for review. They probably secretly prayed it never landed on my desk. Thanks to Jo herself for giving me the opportunity to write for AP and tolerating my excesses and putting me in my place when needed. She made writing for AP an honour which I'll never forget. Finally... thanks to everyone who visited the website and took time to read my shit. If you bought just one of the releases I recommended, or if I made you cringe, laugh or shake your head in disbelief then I succeeded in my aims. The lights go out as this chapter closes.

[Amen to that Al... Jo]


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