A Journal Of The Dark Arts
Roberto Crippa conjures ominous, foreboding landscapes on his debut for We Can Elude Control.
More and more sound artists are using technology to construct otherworldly environments. This is particularly prevalent in the damned and doomed soundscapes of extreme musics like drone and doom metal, who use distortion and power chords to carve out megaliths of sound, for modern pagans to lose themselves in animal abandon.
With electronic music’s inherent ability to create alien atmospheres, with no real-world corollaries, you’d think more electronic producers would take the opportunity to create fresh and strange worlds. Thankfully, there is a rising tide of dark experimentalists who are doing precisely that.
It’s funny, Crippa’s iron oxide bassweight had me thinking of Emptyset before i realized that this came out on that duo’s We Can Elude Control imprint. Reverse features similar amorphous, ominous sound shapes to Emptyset‘s Recur, which used a similar sonic architecture to explore, and recreate, the acoustic properties of a decaying Gothic villa.
Reverse employs similar tactics, and melds them with the spectral sonic psychogeography of The Stranger’s Watching Dead Empires In Decay, and Actress’ Ghettoville, along with the primordial drum machine worship of Stephen O’ Malley‘s recent collaboration with Mika Vainio, as Aanipaa. If Italian psych-metallers Ufomammut were to construct their Snail god worship with disembodied frequencies, instead of downtuned guitars, it would sound something like Reverse.
Reverse is mighty. The bass is crushing, 1000 metric tons per square inch, and will make you feel like you’re under the weight of the ocean. Are we becoming aware of the weight of gravity well? Will this pressure simply becoming too overwhelming, until we’re forced to flee the atmosphere?
Reverse is ominous and full of dread, without ever succumbing to trite tropes, meant to imply savagery. No shrieking, no blastbeats, just an oozing, sucking menace, like on “Order” and “Spectrum”, both stand out tracks, that fit in nicely next to that Emptyset record. At its best, Crippa’s music sounds like a gargantuan, jet-black slug slurping its way out of a radioactive tar pit. It’s positively filthy, in the best possible way. A baptism in the sludge of the world…
Reverse sounds like exploring a mysterious, abandoned city, crawling into its dark heart to find the titan machines that keeps its husk alive. Ghost drones and harmonics weave in and out, sounding like ventilation shafts, over the deep resonance of subterranean chambers. Reverse also sounds like ritualistic hunting music for Morlocks, suggesting you may not be alone, in this space.
Reverse‘s reluctance towards melodies, or other aspects that make this recognizable as “music” means you can play this repetitively, losing yrself in its labyrinthine corridors, again and again, and finding something new each time.
Crippa’s sound design is impeccable, with bass frequencies being sculpted into glistening, frightening new configurations we’ve never seen or heard before. This sound design is captured and refined with flawless mixing, with colossal reverbs, that inherently suggests Giger-esque cavernous chambers.
More and more, i am seeing signs that, as a species, we are becoming interested in exploration. Of course, leaving the familiar is always terrifying proposition, but staying with things, exactly as they are, may be more terrifying still. We must face the blackness of space, the hollowness of void, to inherit our destiny, and discover new horizons.
Reverse is a hell of a dark ambient dancefloor lament configuration. It will open new worlds, in your neural pathways, leading to alien visions of crumbling worlds. Try yr best not to be afraid. But when you hear that might shlurping, oozing crawl, run for your life!
For writers who are working on stories featuring alien worlds or civilizations, seeking to conjure lost and decayed technologies and primordial Gods, this would be an excellent soundtrack for your imaginations. Similarly, this would make a good score for anyone reading Stanislaw Lem, H.P. Lovecraft, or other approximations of mankind’s inability to approach the alien sublime.
Many thanks to Jonathan Lee of Disco Insolence, for the excellent recommendation.
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