A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Artist: Nate Young
Label: iDeal Recordings
Release Date: July, 2009
Soundtracks for imaginary films is one of the most common themes of ambient/experimental music, these days. Not tied down by linear narrative or imagery, when composers and sound designers set out to make imaginary film music, not even the Milky Way’s the limit, with some truly fucked up soundscapes and mental imagery as a result.
With the Horrorscores series, i will be looking at music for imaginary horror films, as well as the actual film works themselves. This is all towards the goal that the fearless listener may drown themselves in inky blackness. Being an archaelogist of the dark side is a way of life, full time work.
This is the first in a series of 3 Regression albums by Nate Young, most widely known as a founding member of infamous noisemongers Wolf Eyes. Wolf Eyes, and Nate Young in particular, are known for a rustbelt take on power electronics, assaulting the audience with a filthy mixture of DIY electronics, homemade instruments, garbled vocals beyond recognition. The whole mix is then run through more processing, until it sounds like a Terminator 2 snowglobe, packed in Jell-o.
I’m not sure that Regression is intended as an imaginary score, but the references are ubiquitous in reviews, so i deemed it worthy. It brings to mind the industrial soundscapes of the original The Texas Chainsaw Massacre score, with its mutated modulated sheetmetal ambiance, or some of the incidental music from Eraserhead. The overall feeling one is left with is cruising through steaming, hissing back alleys, bordering corrugated tin warehouses, corroded train tracks adjoining. The setting is bleak and lonely, and you are perhaps overcome with pensiveness, bordering on melancholy, wistful and lost in thought. Perhaps it is nighttime, and the sodium lights cast everything in a sickly orange and green glow. You almost begin to feel sorry for yrself, until you notice a slight tremor of the ground. Something… massive is walking the streets with you. There’s not a soul in sight. You are all alone, and suddenly you feel like prey.
Nate Young’s music sounds like a dilapidated iron giant, a leperous AT-AT, stained with blood. It’s beyond human, it’s uncaring; the rise of the machines.
What makes Nate Young’s music so special, and sharing such a kinship with early Horror movies score, is a reliance on hand-built electronics. Young’s been a circuit bender and lathe troll since the late ’90s, and every Wolf Eyes-related release cannot be replicated, the sound is entirely their own. In this interview for Tiny Mix Tapes, he talks about being influenced by the Fantastic Planet score:
According to Wikipedia: “The sounds and patterns that came out of the circuits were unique and unpredictable because they were actually overloading the circuits until they burned out to create the sounds. The Barrons could never recreate the same sounds again, though they later tried very hard to recreate their signature sound from Forbidden Planet. Because of the unforeseen life span of the circuitry, the Barrons made a habit of recording everything.”
The Barrons were doing exactly what my weirdo colleagues and I are doing now. I wish all noise musicians would be like the Barrons, but this is not the case.
The combination of pounding industrial rhythms with retroactive synth scores does gives this an ominous vintage SF feel. It could be the score for yr next cyberpunk Youtube outing, or some post apocalyptic role playing scenario. The homemade nature of the instruments (and the way that they’re recorded) give this one a surveillance camera grit, cast in a sickly greenish light.
Regressions is a fairly dismal listen, as you might expect from reading track titles like ‘Trapped’, ‘Dread’, ‘Sweating Sickness’. The album maintains a consistent plodding pace throughout, putting the listener in an uneasy trance. It evokes imagery of ruined industrial landscapes and Tibetan canyon lands. It is inhuman, remote, unemotional. The grit seeps into yr bones, into yr subconscious, vague and troubling. Something is going on, but we’re not entirely sure what it is.
If yr looking for a place to begin, i’d recommend ‘Under The Skin’ or ‘Sweating Sickness’, for starters. Although, as usual with most noise releases, i recommend listening to this in it’s entirety on a decent set of speakers.
Nate Young will light you up with dystopian daydreams and feverish nightmares.
Lister to Regression on Spotify
Find it on AMAZON: Regression
i’ll do the next 2 Regressions at some point in the future.