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The House In The Woods – Bucolica/Maeror Tri – Meditamentum

Exotic Pylon/Zoharum

The House In The Woods – BucolicaThese are separated by time and space (never separable, never suited) but are nevertheless kin – in Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color they would be pigs and people, skin-bonded, worm-tailed, consciousness-sharing. I guess they are both broadly branches of that jagged, never truly existing, tree called ‘dark ambient’ (a tree that confounds at every twist, that seemingly can’t die because it has roots in the infinite itself) but don’t let that put you off; there’s dark magic in these woods.

There’s a lot of terrible music released in this genre and lots of normally pretty good dark ambient bands put out the odd duff release (yes, you could say this about every genre but in my world, where this kind of thing is paid close attention, it seems like there’s a particularly poor quality control). It’s a genre that can attract laziness (I can remember David Tibet saying that about some of his own droney works in Current 93) and contempt for the audience (who are often culpable by being too easily pleased) but when it works, and when there’s a real sense of placement in the sounds, it can be a magnificent and here we have two wonderful additions to the genre.

Maeror tri - MeditamentumThese are exemplars of sorts. These give dark ambient a good name even if neither of them would perhaps accept the label. The House In The Woods (Exotic Pylon) takes the ambience further towards a sort of warm digital loam, while Maeror Tri (Zoharum) slip into warm baths created by a kind of total processing of real sounds.

At least, I think that’s what’s happening; in truth, where the sounds come from doesn’t matter because they slip and slide over one another so perfectly they feel like they might almost work better as a montage. You could imagine these two albums played on either side of a large room – a cavern – and you could wander aimlessly around the room, letting the sounds ebb and flow and rise and fall. These albums could dance together and it’d look like the alien dance-fight-lovemaking in Holy Motors (for some reason, both these releases feel like they ought to be compared to film). Watch Upstream Color, feel the gauze, listen to The Sampler’s odd music and imagine him playing along with either of these bands and then let the film’s montages drift over you and imagine playing these albums alongside. Both of these don’t need images to work (they make images work) but they wouldn’t easily be contaminated by them either.

If you’re desperate, I could mention Zoviet France et al – Maeror Tri in particular do sort of sound like Zoviet France – but that would feel a little like missing the point. The soundworlds here feel very genuine. They may, in part, be related to memories of other musics (there’s a nod in the sleeve notes of Meditamentum to Throbbing Gristle, for instance) or attempts to recreate specific places and moments in time but nothing here feels remotely forced. They are not trying to be dark; they just happen upon darkness.


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