Sulphur – Tarot – Garden
I was lucky to catch the premier of this back in August 2012. The band captured the eerie grace and peculiar atmosphere of Derek Jarman‘s super 8s so completely, I was falling over myself to grab one of these CDr documents they were merch(ing) at the time. A nicely packaged item that have enjoyed listening to ever since. Now in the 20th anniversary of Jarman’s death, Cyclobe have reworked and re-mastered this curious work and put it out for mass consumption. There’s some subtle tinkering, tweaks in the fabric here and there (well to my ears at least),but nothing to distract from the original power.“Sulphur” is the first to shiver out, and judders like some hypothermic apparition. A ticket to the underworld in a gristled waltz, vaporously cross cut in glimpses of Cthulhu tendrils and the cold gasp of breath-written glass. It oozes a giddy, almost intoxicated fragrance, an insidiously seductive disquiet. The film it is soundtrack to was a curious montage of Jarman’s Act of Mirrors and In the Shadow of the Sun, a slow bleed of blue/green hued soup, bleached in flashes of mirror and a haunted ballet of anonymity – the music constantly disintegrating, aping the film’s antiquity and slipping exposures. A banquet of ill-electronics descending in a crux of birdsong and crow caw.
“Tarot” follows, possesses a strange regal lucidity, mapping some decadent decline in bowed and tidal stretches of tone. An arcane melody falling sickly through like the mouth-pulled jewellery in Kenneth Anger’s Pleasure Dome. A slow-cooked constriction that was stranger still with the on-screen eroticism and its strangled finale. “Garden of Luxor” doesn’t dive straight into the goods as the previous tracks, do but instead starts in a multi-folding canopy eaten in granular zithers… crystalline sounds… brittle displacements… A swaying chandelier in the slowly changing hues of Tarkovsky‘s Solaris, weaving roots, wandering into a reverbratory of moths. A preamble to a grandiose processional of softened percussive piano, all stately drift with a cackling back-wash lapping slowly away to the closing silence.
13 years after its original release comes this welcome re-issue of Cyclobe’s second album. Its myriad of shapes and conflicting tones were a bewildering soup back then and I’m happy to report the vision hasn’t dated one jot since. An unsettling template that begins with “Sentinels,” a 13 minute dive into a mirror darkened, behind which the matrix code jets, flickers in the nano-fizzle of badly-soldered synapse. Spiral arms widening to a itch of circuitry, lost cyphers caught in the bloat of Stravinsky-like jelly, finding resolution in a neyish trance of hurdy gurdy and the summoning Yemen discords.“Brightness Falls From The Air” continues the vibe in a macabre-threaded ballet strangely reminiscent of Tarot‘s regal glints. An uneasy melody of distress signal stabbed in bold hues of piano and serpentine coils of violin. A malaise filled with filtered fairies and whirr-data, a brew replete in mimicking children. “First Memorable Conversation With A Chimera” jabs against all this brilliantly, in a mad dialogue of broken tones and fluttering aluminium, some machine dialect lost in a mistranslation of bubbles and grasping plankton.
Thematically “If You Want To See That Nothing Is Left” returns to that distress beacon vibe, this time coupled with a Pieter Nooten-like swell of cello. An elegy in which the electronics helix their betweens and farm themselves out to the spacey strung-out vapours of “Strix Nebulosa.” Texture tastes that later flee from a central thump, filled with dive-bombing curves and limpet-like clasps. Strange machine rhythms run through with arcane acoustika like a glitching pill loop-holing in the slither of embryonic jelly and Giger-esque metal. “The Body Feels Light And Wants To Fly” feels esoteric. Those circular rubs/motions ooze ritual. Weighty gravities pulling attentively, teeming with organic matter. The flutter of lace wing, insectoid… grain-washed… swaying… processional gropings of tune appearing like mirages, retracting on haunted dopamine caught in the wake of neuro-propellers.A (slur)realism of metaphorics that truly hit in the lovely “Replaced By His Constellation,” an 11 minute track that starts as a half-lit organ piece drone caught in globs of slow-breathing skin. Surgical amputated forms swirl, cranium curve, wither in demised orbits. Superbly realised electronica that re-invents itself half way through, evolves into a pulsing garland of soft whirl and decaying signals nebulised on vocolic breath. Delicate saturations that imbue the beauty of expectation then silence to flow all oceanic swell on bassy warnings. The last track, “Son Of Sons Of Light” returns to the glowing sunset of “Sentinels,” a 2013 addition in bagpipes that sound like the dervish colours of Morocco, the Master Musicians of Jajouka attached to the purring of drone singularities.
These are ideas you can taste, that metamorph beyond three dimensions, playing around with the ominous, disruptive; a tangled cradle of life-forms falling out of your speakers in animated electricity and ancient acoustics: tentacles that have fed subsequent Cyclobe albums since.