‘Worship Is The Cleansing Of The Imagination’ is a collaborative release (and more than likely Hydra Head’s last ever it seems) between two solo artists: the legendary Justin Broadrick, here performing under the latest moniker for his solo ouput JK Flesh; and Prurient – otherwise known as Dominick Fernow – an artist who has not been around for nearly as long as Broadrick, but one who has firmly carved out a name for himself, deftly handling everything noise-related from ambience to power electronics. Each artist contributes 3 tracks to what is one of the year’s most abrasive and dense releases; just over 30 minutes of music that evokes the condensed decay of a wretched industrial landscape.
JK Flesh opens things up with ‘Fear of Fear’ which is something approaching the most hench, bloated dupstep you’ve ever heard married to an unrelenting de-tuned guitar riff of battering mechanistic simplicity that has become one of the hallmarks of Justin Broadrick’s style. I caught JK Flesh’s set at this year’s Supersonic Festival, and it was ‘Fear of Fear’ (though I didn’t know the title at the time) that really stood out for me and is, if not the best, at least the most memorable track from this release.
For the next two parts of Broadrick’s contribution the guitar is less prominent, but the music is no less heavy for it and actually all the more oppressive for lack of a recognisable instrument cutting through, as he continues to play with the idea of an ultra harsh, off-kilter approach to dupstep. Imagine Burial channelling Merzbow re-imagining the soundtrack to ‘The Terminator’ and you’re some way to pinning down the feel here; this music has more to do with the figurative destruction of apocalyptic industrial wastelands than any sense of melody or riff. JK Flesh’s side is noticeably more percussive than Prurient’s, but the style evolves across the three tracks in such a way that the change from one side to the other is so smooth as to suggest a genuinely focussed collaborative effort rather than incidental fusing together of two unrelated sections.
Prurient ‘s music here is more noise and ambience than JK Flesh’s, and the first track ‘Chosen Books’ builds and builds to a claustrophobic throng of harsh static and the sound of sheets of metal screeching up against one another; sounding like the logical evolution of the skin crawling, ultra-tense pieces of Krzysztof Penderecki’s music – made famous by the use of several pieces in Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. That’s the second reference I’ve made to a film, but I think music like this suggests really strong accompanying imagery to the point that cinematic or visual reference points are sometimes the best way to describe things. And to that end, across this whole 34 minutes of music I just imagine snapshots of a grey dystopian landscape being blown apart and dragged down by vicious winds and electrical storms. All of that comes to an eerily calm end on ‘I Understand You’ where a simple piano line echoes under and over wailing radio static (in a similar vein to some of Tim Hecker’s stuff), bringing the album to a genuinely beautiful albeit pretty melancholy close.
For me, this is a brilliant collaborative effort and I can’t see it leaving fans of either artist anything less than delighted. To say it’s only 34 minutes, the amount of varied musical ground it manages to cover is impressive, and all the more so because it evolves so subtly across six tracks and two different artists. And if this is the last ever release from Hydra Head, it’s a bloody brilliant note to end on.
Scribed by: Chris Moore