A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Label: Chapel Yard
Release Date: 10.3.13
RIYL: Coil, Wolf Eyes, Pierre Schaeffer, The Rita, Julianna Barwick, Philip Jeck
On their first EP, Isobel Ccircle, the duo of Matt Bower, who also makes music under the name The Revenant Sea and is the author of the Wizards Tell Lies blog, and April Larson take you on a journey, from the Mariannis trench to 32,000 feet, and beyond.
Music can be broken down into two categories: gesture and texture. Gesture can be described as any kind of movement, and encapsulates most pop music. It is the human element, the stamp of the personality. Texture, on the other hand, is how all the sounds combine, the density of a piece. Some music seems designed to hum along to, and some seems designed to create a space, to trouble the air and summon imagery you’ve never thought of before.
Drone-based music is particularly good at being textural, with sounds manipulated and stretched beyond their limits, until their base components strain and rub against one another, creating new and alien shapes. The form has it’s strengths and weaknesses. Boredom is one of them, and it’s true, for those looking for a 45 minute soundtrack for yr next shopping expedition, yr not gonna have a great use for this little slab, with little recognizable structure or melody.
Isobel Ccircle circumnavigate a lot of the weaknesses of the drone genus by introducing a lot of variation and attention to detail. New sounds are constantly being introduced, making for a shifting mirror pool of a record that is both hypnotizing and terrifying. By nullifying the inherent weaknesses of the form, we are able to perceive some of it’s many strengths. With drone music, sounds that don’t normally live together co-exist quite peacefully. This makes for more interesting musical combinations than can typically be found in pop music, making for a more visionary, more subjective and complex listening experience. In short, this record will stoke yr imagination, and flood yr pineal gland with visions.
“I Live Through Death” is what I imagine the last few moments of the Titanic must’ve sounded like, or felt like. The icy terror of iceberg strewn waters gives way to a beneficent acceptance, as degraded bass rumble makes way for peaceful, siren-like synthesizers. It’s dirty and analog and electrical, just how we like it, menacing but beautiful.
“Eyes In The Ground” matches gritty white noise against an ominous squeal, that sounds like it could have been a violin in a former life. It illustrates the pair’s ability to manipulate surface noise, as the static never gets boring or complacent, constantly being manipulated and processed, like a technicolor oil slick sheen on the surface of dark water. Like the last track, it starts off ominous, before a lovely weightless string quartet rises from the depths. Like in life, sometimes we must wait through the uncomfortability for revelation to occur.
“Fractal Hooks” sounds like watching fireworks from the cabin of a Boeing 757, with a distant scraping rumble that would make GX Jupiter-Larssen proud. An unexpected and destroying beat comes in 3/4 of the way through, keeping you on yr toes, reminding you that you never know what to expect, when visiting Isobel Ccircle.
That beat illustrates what makes Eyes In The Ground a noteworthy debut. They are blending drone music with power noise techniques, industrial rhythms and downright musicality. They are not lifelessly stitching together genres, but seem to genuinely know and love each. It’s a shot in the arm for both drone and noise, which is overrun with imitators with nothing real to say, who are focused on style over substance.
Eyes In The Ground is released through Chapel Yard, a new-ish label with some mighty acts on their roster. All of their releases are still available as a name-your-price on bandcamp, and you’d be advised to pick o’er their bones.
If yr anything like me, a music fanatic living and breathing in 2013, yr more than a little tired of predictable chord changes and pop formulas, and ready for something a little different. It may be just the thing for yr next shopping trip, after all.