Album summary: One of the best constructed albums I have ever encountered. Each track leads into and compliments the next, creating a gestalt feeling of greater intelligence and dark tension. My suggestion is to listen with headphones and get every last morsel. Each track has its own textural/experiential review.
Various – Splicing The Icy Expanse – Else Product
1.Haunted sound laboratory – Ghost in the blood (live)
Beginning with heavy breathing and a heartbeat, this track builds tension slowly and deliberately. The tones build and fade in hideous repetition and the breathing is joined by what sounds like a chamber being loaded. Occasional whining sounds add to the over-all tension. After seven full minutes you begin to beg for that final sound you keep expecting, but that release is denied you. The tension does not fade.
2.440mz – mk2
You almost feel as if this track is going to lift you up out of the difficult listening of the previous, but no… There is still something foreboding about mk2. The beat is well-constructed and the background tones set an uncertain mood. You wonder if this track is making you nervous and yet you find yourself tapping your foot and head bobbing a bit to the beat. This is a brilliant blend of possibilities.
3.Mink – Ride (danny hyde remix)
The filters kick in with synth vocals and scratchy insectoid messages bouncing from ear to ear. Then, surprisingly a female voice drops in. The voice is lovely and the lyrics interesting, but the key is in the composition. The voice is not the sole messenger, but rather a part of the overall composition, a compliment to an already capable communicator. Every beat, every word, every sound and tone is placed perfectly.
4.Marblehead – Much More Than You
There is something about this track that creates a sense of place and movement, movement across the remains of a battlefield, or some urban trauma. When the sample kicks in “Oh My God, you really can do it…” you wonder if someone has just displayed an ability that is so much greater than even they expected. This is one of those moments when I am glad not to know the source of the sample. I have a feeling that the story the song implies is so much more interesting that the movie the samples came from.
5.Black Sun Productions – Vultures and Vagaries
At first, the flute-like reverberations make you feel as if this track may bleed away some of the tension and discord built up listening to the previous tracks. The undercurrent of the other tones in this piece give you the sense that something else altogether could be in store. One sound has a short alarm-like quality, another is voice that reminds me of a recording of a launch count-down being hand-spun on a turntable. Where is this going? It turns out, you are already there…
6.Mort Douce – Black Mirror Reflections (tactile mix)
Echo and reverb slide down the ribs of a slinky and expand and intensify, bringing you to a deeper and deeper trance state. Unlike some new-age meditation CD, this trance may leave you quivering and twitching, pulse quickening and inner-self unsteady. It builds upon itself and travels upward, bring to mind a semi-truck speeding down an audio-experience highway headed straight for your forehead. Just as you begin to move out the way, it passes you by, unharmed.
7.Si Dredlingre Goryrapp – Lavender Sketched
This is the glory of music that understands subtlety. Hums and tones, hints of messages, breathes of alien awareness, of something reaching out to you from the void. Panning and composition make you believe that the presence being built in this track is all around and very sentient. If only you could concentrate on it fully, you would understand, but the message stays just outside of reach…
8. Blackcell – Spawning Magnetic Storms
We are given a beat to follow, but the promise is that you may not be comfortable with the place it takes you to. Sharp strikes of the symbols quicken the pace, staccato fuzz tones complete the driving sense of movement. A voice starts. It is difficult to understand as it bleeds through distortion and effects. You wonder if the voice is telling a story, or giving commands. The pace quickens. Are you following it, or being chased by it? This is a maze and you no longer know the way out.
9.Kuxaa N-Sum – Lamentor Demorte
What? What is that whispering? But no, it’s gone before you can decide. A keyboard riff begins to set the mood, a wet-sounding synth bassline brings everything forward. Stand on an immense vista and turn, looking at the expanse of land around you, feeling the spirits as they pass just outside of vision. The voices come back. The clear message blots out everything else “Thou Shalt Not Kill” but you know there is more. The whispering returns, then fades. The message is there, but you just can’t grasp it.
10.Not – To Taka Gra
This is the tune that brings everything back to the world you know. It has the feel of a European rock experiment. When described simply, it seems out of place, but the break it provides is perfect and leads to the last portion of the album. Short and percussive, the vocals are in what sounds like might be Polish, very listenable.
11.Life’s Decay – Gloria
A dirgey organ sound followed by a beat made with resounding drums and bells introduces soft female vocals. The back-beat has an almost military feel, though slow and understated. Almost as if this young lady is showing you the bodies of the lost after the battle is done. Beautiful and fragile, this song is a wonderful exercise in juxtaposition.
12.mx iii vs Kilgore Gore
The simple knocking beat sets the stage for Kilgore Trout’s spoken word. Let it do it’s work and the beats brings the pace of the song to one of danger and touches the lyrics’ slow progression, deepening the sense that you need to pay attention. This is one of the shortest tracks on the album though, so I hope you got it quick.
13.Bad Wolf – Die Ostara Satan America
Squeals and crashes make up the bulk of this track. Compositionally, this track comes closest to filling the category of Noise, recalling some truly experimental works of Merzbow or Non. It has elements of abrasiveness but you know it is just part of the intent and charm of this track. It is almost as if Bad Wolf is daring you to listen intently and make it through the entire track.
14.3z13 – They Don’t Know
Quirky and impulsive, this track seems downright playful in comparison to everything else on the album. Some of the sounds are cartoon-ish, and the beat is steady as it guides you through an animated landscape that all comes into clearer focus when you realize that the two samples come from DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? By Phillip K. Dick. Brilliant, conceptually and compositionally.
15.Haunted Sound Laboratory – Polymorphic Lull
Haunted Sound Laboratory are back as the CD comes near a close. The initial sounds remind me of the ambient background sounds of a digital pinball game, but then the backwards-sounding voice begins to grate through an incomprehensible dialogue. This track is also perfectly placed; the tension is beginning to drain, the message has begun to sink in, the listener can begin to rest, but the story isn’t over.
16.The Insektys Isotope – Searching For Life In The Ethane Oceans
Now we begin to see this sonic travelogue for what it is; a tour through alien worlds both born and unborn, searching for life along the icy expanses of worlds with ethane oceans. With this track you truly feel as if you are moving slowly through an ocean of gas and fluid with signs of life and transmissions all around you. The goblin-esque sounds that occasionally flit through this piece solidify the over-all feel of that something completely foreign is being encountered.
It is a brilliant close to a brilliant album.