A dossier of illuminations and orientations relating to the work of Daniel O'Sullivan.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Æ review in AQ

Latest record from this ever shifting sonic collective, still comprised of the core duo of Stephen O'Malley (SUNNO))), KTL, etc.) and Daniel O'Sullivan (Guapo, Mothlite), although this time the group is rounded out by Kristoffer Rygg, aka Garm from Ulver, plus percussionist Steve Noble.

En Form For Bla is the result of several performances in Norway earlier this year, and finds the group shedding much of their previous heaviness in favor of a sound much more haunting and abstract, spaced out and introspective, the guitars less murky and muddy and massive, and more spidery and ethereal and minimal, laying out deep low end thrum and keening upper register shimmer. Rygg operates like a dub producer, electronically treating the sounds, while adding some of his own, the result is a constantly shifting landscape of drift and doom and pulsing heaviness and whirling almost free jazz sounding sonic exploration.

The big surprise here is Noble, who is all over the record, without overplaying, letting the record remain unstructured and abstract, while still moving it beyond mere static ambient improv, whether it's scattered bits of subtle skitter, thick clouds of shimmery cymbal or pulsing rhythmic pound, the band tend to creep and crawl, but when they do let loose it borders on Bitches Brew style jazz psychedelia, albeit a bit more blackened.

The overall sound is quite atmospheric and soundtracky, the melodies subtle, but the feelings they evoke not so much, stirring up dark clouds of sinister brood, and epic soaring cinematic mesmer, occasionally slipping into some minimal krautrock throb, like on the mesmerizing "Vivarium", and sounding a bit like a more low end heavy Necks (or maybe Supersilent), and then lurching into some giallo style mood music, on "Vyomagami Plume" and sounding like a deconstructed Goblin, a gently chaotic assemblage of heaving bass and twisted keyboards, of clattery percussion, and spaced out electronics, but all deftly woven into something moving and emotional and darkly compelling. Fantastic stuff.


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