October 2011 Short Reviews (Alasdair Roberts, Burial Hex, Haiku Funeral, Voice of Eye)

Alas­dair Roberts & Friends - Joy to the Per­son of My Love [dis­cogs]

Joy to the Per­son of My Love

This Rif Moun­tain 7″ con­tains a duo of inter­pret­a­tions of 17th cen­tury songs. Scot­tish song­ster Roberts has made set­tings of these tunes for voice, acous­tic gui­tar, flute, and whistle, which form a nice bridge between the sounds of the renais­sance and of mod­ern folk styl­ings.

I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of the B-side “False Astro­nomy”, which has a typ­ical melody which reminds me a bit of older Christ­mas car­ols. Prob­ably not that strange if I am cor­rect in my assump­tion that those ori­gin­ate in the same period. Regard­less, Roberts’ deliv­er­ance of the poetry is excep­tion­ally strong rhyth­mic­ally and res­ults in a rather feel­good track.

This is a short but sweet single that is sure to please folk lov­ers with a pen­chant for renais­sance music.

Burial Hex - Eschat­o­logy I [dis­cogs]

Eschat­o­logy I

Clay Ruby’s Burial Hex pro­ject is gen­er­ally a more than excel­lent source of music skirt­ing the edges of drone, ritual, ambi­ent, and dark occult moods, and this tape on his own label Brave Mys­ter­ies is no excep­tion.

The 60-minute effort focuses on two long com­pos­i­tions. The first is “Twi­light Vis­it­ors”, a piece which flows back and forth between raw pulsat­ing drones and softer ambi­ent synths, with a good bal­ance between intens­ity and silence. Other ele­ments include vari­ous warped voices, as well as mul­tiple dif­fer­ent mod­i­fied synth sounds, res­ult­ing in a long ambi­ent piece that rewards attent­ive listen­ing now and again. You’ll dis­cover some­thing dif­fer­ent each time.

The B-side con­tains a long mix of the stel­lar track “Book of Delu­sions”, which I’d already praised in my review of the album bear­ing the same title. This ver­sion is twice as long, but the beat is so hyp­not­ising and the arrange­ment flows so seam­lessly that these 30 minutes drift by before you know it. Mar­vel­lous work!

Haiku Funeral - If God Is a Drug [dis­cogs]

If God Is a Drug

Haiku Funeral is a pro­ject oper­at­ing on the cross­roads of indus­trial, elec­tro, dark/doom metal, noise, and ambi­ent, and this third album of theirs is as diverse and hard to pigeon­hole as that might sug­gest. The album lacks little in ambi­ence, with themes of dis­ease, drugs, dark­ness, and mad­ness spring­ing to mind quite clearly.

The musical diversity is both a bless­ing and a curse on If God Is a Drug. While the album is highly var­ied and not a bor­ing listen, it seems to lack a sense of dir­ec­tion and coher­ence to some degree. Nev­er­the­less, there are quite a few inter­est­ing tracks on this album, and they’ll prob­ably be dif­fer­ent for each listener. I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of the electro/industrial on “The Holy Con­nec­tion”, and the Love­craf­t­ian spoken word / dark ambi­ent of “City in the Sea”. Other nice ele­ments include ori­ental melod­ies on bass, the eerie female spoken word on “Bright Red Seeds”, to name a few.

An inter­est­ing album if you’re look­ing for some­thing dif­fer­ent and not afraid to cross genre bound­ar­ies mul­tiple times over the course of one album.


Voice of Eye - Sub­stan­tia Innominata [dis­cogs]

Sub­stan­tia Innominata

Voice of Eye is another one of those dark ambi­ent pro­jects that have passed under my radar for too long. This 10″ on the sub­lime Sub­stan­tia Innominata series by Drone Records is only one of the more recent records in a career that spans two dec­ades. Des­pite being smal­ler than an LP, this three-track effort clocks in at almost 38 minutes, half of it being taken up by the long first track on side A, “Vīrya”, a Sanskrit word roughly mean­ing ‘virile’. Des­pite its length and min­im­al­ism, the track impresses with its dom­in­ant oth­er­worldly voices, which are com­pel­ling and ever-chan­ging. Only near the end of the track do we hear a few other sounds from the dark ambi­ent arsenal, a com­bin­a­tion which con­tin­ues over on the first track of side B, named “Dhyāna”, mean­ing med­it­a­tion - ‘zen’ is the equi­val­ent term in Japan­ese. The track slowly tapers out into soft, inter­mit­tent synth waves, main­tain­ing the mys­tic, ambigu­ous atmo­sphere. The final track, “Pur­uşa” (‘the self’) is par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful, fea­tur­ing a softer, gentler melody of synth waves, joined in the end by lovely drift­ing flute tones, slightly remin­is­cent of Tan­ger­ine Dream’s clas­sic “Sequent ‘C’ ”.

All in all this is a won­der­ful album, decept­ively beau­ti­ful and com­pel­ling des­pite its appar­ent min­im­al­ism and lim­ited spec­trum of sounds. The phys­ical mani­fest­a­tion is also great, as are all Sub­stan­tia Innominata releases, but the art­work and vinyl (clear with warm golden streaks) are par­tic­u­larly beau­ti­ful on this one. Recom­men­ded for all dark ambi­ent afi­cion­ados!