A Journal Of The Dark Arts
A ritual in the dark. Dead voices press at the inky blackness of the nearly vacant room – faint murmuring gibberish; unsense. The clock strikes 2; you dare not drop hands. You sit and wait for sunrise.
There’s a real reek of sulphur to this inaugural transmission from Robert Mitchell, released for free download by Bitsquare Records. With track names like ‘VOID’, ‘TRANSMISSION’, ‘SPIRITS’, ‘VISIONS’, ‘LEVIATHAN’; it seems that Dendrite intends to evoke aural witchcraft with every tool conceivable to a self-produced, droney, noise-y, improvised composer. You can hear the presence of loops, layered vocals, machine hums, banging racketing percussion; trying to guess the origins and methodology of each song is part of the intrigue of the listening experience. Time Immemorial is a basalt monolith of a record, immense and unbroken. It sets a mood and keeps you there; it seems to evoke vast empty space, radio telescopes, ghostly transmissions. One of the most remarkable of Mitchell’s abilities is his ability to create slowly morphing, continuous soundworlds – its uncanny how the pieces can bend and morph so subtly as to be unnoticeable. It creates the experience of yr inner world becoming unreliable, you can no longer trust yrself, yr senses. This is like a ritual evocation, but rather than being horned glowering high production devils, these are murky wispy ephemeral spirits of madness, spelling out gibberish on yr ouija board, whispering in yr ear.
Most of the events that transpire on this disc have a rather canned digital sheen to them, which makes me believe that it was probably self-produced at home, on a computer, never coming out the box, which gives it a lo-fi experimental edge, but it really could stand to have some bottom end (as is evidenced by labelmate Derek Piotr’s reworking of ‘SPIRITS’, at the end of the disc. The homemade quality of these recordings just adds to the air, but i’m curious to see what Robert Mitchell could get into, with a full-on recording studio and mastering job.
Dendrite is where Dark Ambient music meets harsh noise; there’s layers of hiss and grit that makes me drool through rotten fangs, and it is really something different than the usual fall-asleep-on-yr-synth-pad Lustmord clones. Add another element of ritualistic noise, with the levels of clanging gongs, scraping metal, modulated bells… it makes Time Immemorial sound like Funeral Folk favorites, Silvester Anfang, at times. In short, this is like nothing else going right now, and its slightly stupid that this is available for free. Check it now, before yr paying $40 for his vinyl runs.
Dendrite are adept at creating and sustaining a mood. Those that like to live in headphones, or have music perpetually looping, can leave this record on for days. I had the good fortune to have it playing, as atmospheric noise at a low volume, in the middle of the night, and two subsequent listens, wandering through desolate shadowy streets at 4:30 in the morning, through warehouse districts, watching trains rev up (pretty much the most ideal setting, for any kind of ritualistic dark noise). Dendrite put me deeply under his spell, with vague, indiscernible reveries playing behind my eyeballs. It’s a unique and powerful working, i think Robert Mitchell is really transmitting something. I didn’t want it to end; i wanted to lie under its leaden blanket for days.
Those that like deep space ambient, tape-collage invocations, EVP, shadowy YouTube clips with figures in the windows… add this to yr listening library. Its witchcraft.