head strangled in a wet towel, wire contorting your body to a chair, stripped
of clothing, body arthritic and aching before the vague visual loop of
a light-bulb swaying dully seen through the soaked weft of heavy cotton;
and wondering to thyself, am I prisoner and victim or am I captor and
architect. It is said the submissive is the one in control.
By its own admission, the Australian act, Sulphur, was “founded
at the turn of the millennium to capture both bleak emotions and a value
for the sanctity still inherent in life” (sic), a view that indeed
colours one’s own view of the dark ambience poured through speakers.
The first track, ‘Phantom der Nacht’ is presented
in cells, blocks of echoic, lonely horns burrowing amid clusters of inspissated
synthesiser struggling to claw their way out of suffocating night, a tribute
to Werner Herzog’s "Nosferatu". A raveling of subterranean
noise fastens a Theseus’ thread through a lightless domain in ‘Catacomb’,
yet for all its entangling, fibres of shivering noise peel from the undulating
trunk. Next, percussion belts anomalous ritual to bristling manes of noise
while a syncopated and sick flute twirls a discordant skirl lost in its
own world. ‘Void of Ice’ is a gelid emptiness illuminating
the inescapable walls of never-ending frost. Despite the inclusion of
a live track at this point in the album only minimal sound quality is
compromised with a quieter track where winds tug and snap evanescent pennants
of gloom. ‘Acts of Defiance’ introduces spoken word,
antediluvian monstrosity, whispered susurrations, and minatory screams
or howls. Noise thunders into spirals of stereo and percussive chaos.
Heavy clamour signals, ‘Biospherics’, a track built
on the backbone of steady beat under a chorus of flanging acidity wherein
vestigial parody of melody and song can be espied. Rasps of steal sharpen
for a meal of inchoate song with more lyrics smothered in distortion with
similar strokes of the blade from the previous track, ‘Biospherics’.
Toning down the mordant digressions, loops and beat palpitate in ‘The
Endless Day’ and through sections of the ‘Final Anguish’,
a melancholy finale that bleeds a cold puddle the death of the album in
a most agreeable manner.
Sulphur crosses dark ambient and noise confidently, not resting in either
vicinage for too long presenting an ever-evolving experiment in sound
and while not wholly unique, Michael Szysz, delivers an enjoyable listening
The package is tastefully prepared, something Sulphur reminds us that
has been elicited for the listener in further contemplation of the themes
enveloped within the audio. Simple jewel case with full colour, 4-page
book and clear tray, the artwork is an aesthetic composition of rust,
stone, and machinery