Somewhere out there on the fringe, sonic explorers of the of the outer dark Gauchiste skirt the orbit of drone and extreme metal sounds, dipping into their outer edges just long enough to tear off chunks of ripe and bloody raw material for their alchymical transformations, but not long enough to to be fully drawn into their heavy gravitational pull.
Like fellow travellers Locrian, Gauchiste exist in a very liminal place, but one in permanent shade – between states but always shrouded in a cloak of darkness that obscures and smears the raw sound being produced. This haziness, this coming in and out of focus, causes one to focus harder on what is being heard as buried beneath the minimalist isolationism is a wealth of microtonal detail.
Think of Gauchiste’s music as a series of pointillist paintings viewed at an uncomfortable distance then suddenly yanked into clear focus, and this shock of clarity is a major weapon within the arsenal of the group. Lurking within the shadowy periphery that Gauchiste dwell within we find Tannon Penland, guitarist of Fancy-Math-Doom behemoths Loincloth, very much adding a radically different string to his bow. Joining cohorts Craig Hilton and Tomas Phillips – who, between them, have quite the electronic/experimental pedigree – Penland here is involved in making sounds that really could not be further away from the diamond sharp, complex convolutions of Loincloth.
Very little here is overt, much is implied, with the only concrete, recognisable sound sources being the cymbals and jackhammer double bass drums that loom from out of the audio-smog of opener ‘viols’, the demonic – yet clearly human – voice found in ‘Choeur I’ and the Fripp-esque backwards guitar fragment within that same track and the following number ‘/ the light is alone’. Elsewhere, sounds are less recognisable, fading in and out of existence, suddenly looming into earshot and warping from one tone into another in layer upon layer, all shot through with a terrifying coldness and nebulousness that makes them slippery to grasp and hard to fix onto, like dissipating ghosts.
Where tracks such as the dread-filled Penderecki-meets-The-Haxan-Cloak closer ‘stop believin’ and the eerie minimalist hissing and droning of ‘autist hammer’ are firmly rooted in the glacial isolationism of Thomas Köner and the clusters of atonality juxtaposed against ambient passages of the adventurous side of modern classical music, there is much here that could (un)comfortably be found soundtracking a movie, albeit a particularly harrowing, bleak and existentially horrific one.
The sense of horror, or creeping dread and encroaching threat, is utterly palpable throughout ‘viols’, with the machine-gun precision drumming serving to hammer home the unspoken threat of violence implicit within the mounting tension of the layered churning glassy drones, stabs of percussion and distorted interferences, something that seems to reverse itself for ‘when we are gone /’, a track that begins with the release of tension in a percussive blow before retreating into arctic winds that carry distant murmuring and low-end growling blocks of shuddering sound. The soundtrack to the very Mountains Of Madness themselves, perhaps.
Traversers and cartographers of the outer dark, Gauchiste wrap themselves around you like a shroud, pulling you deeper into the shadow and blotting out all other light and sound. This is the sound of a black mirror, hanging in nothingness and reflecting only the darkest parts of the viewer. Dare you gaze upon that shadow self?
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Scribed by: Paul Robertson