…and so we have the umpty-twelfth Locrian-related release of the year – a year not even half-way through, I might add – and once again, Messrs. Hannum, Foisy and Hess are working in collaboration with other like-minded parties, this time the lady and gentlemen of Mamiffer, and once again the results are stunning.
The Mamifferians – Faith Coloccia, Travis Rommeriem and Aaron Turner (yes, that Aaron Turner) – are also joined by ‘auxiliary instrumentalists’ Alex Barnett of Oakeater and Brian Cook of Russian Circles/These Arms Are Snakes/Botch.
What we have here, my fine-feathered friends, is a collective consciousness that is at one with its individual constituent parts. Everything and everyone is working in perfect harmony……although ‘harmony’ may not be quite the right word to use to describe the haunting sounds that are wrung from the æther during Bless Them That Curse You.
‘In Fulminic Blaze’ opens the gate, hollow, droning chants overshadowed by inhuman screams, slowly subsiding as delicately picked and dramatically accented guitar fills the void. Powerfully minimalist percussion drives the beast as it snowballs into a throbbing, pounding colossus, guitars strumming repetitively on top of that roiling thunder-crack rhythm.
The titular track itself coalesces from a nebulous muffled ululation that swells in volume, evolving harmonic overtones that themselves swell and expand into a shimmering drone with a bowed bass undertone stretched across what seems like infinity but is in fact only around six minutes. This is sound to get lost in.
The ghost of The Exorcist – no pun intended – haunts ‘Corpus Luteum’, containing, as it does in its intro section, fragments of Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, but this almost jaunty sound soon gives way to sinister baroque glissandos, nerve-jarring piano notes and a subtly howling echo that all help to evoke the taut, horrifying psychodrama of Friedkin’s 1973 work of terror and possession.
The edginess and frayed nerves brought on by the previous track will find no surcease within the confines of the expansive sounds yet-perversely-claustrophobic feel of ‘Second Burial’. Highly reminiscent of a pared-down take on the unsettling atmosphere of the quieter parts of Neurosis’ track ‘Enemy Of The Sun’, warped and echoing metallic clangs drift across a soundscape composed of stretched and buried notes as odd scrapings and scratchings scuttle around the soundfield. Ominous synthesizer buzzes join the fray, further enhancing the creep-factor as sudden swells of noise assault the ears without warning. If the mood intended here was ‘creeping dread’ then the boys and girl of Locrian and Mamiffer have most certainly achieved their mandate.
‘ Lechatelierite’ – which is silica glass, naturally forming when quartz sand is hit by lightning, fact fans, a photograph of which is featured on the front cover of this very recording – is an astringent, minor-key piano piece, overlaid with what sounds like a rough recording of the sound of wind and rain on roofing or windows. Very simple and very effective.
The final track stretches across eighteen minutes in three ‘movements’, ‘Metis/Amaranthine/The Emperor’. Taking the piano motif from the last track and running with it, Coloccia’s ethereal vocals and spectral string sounds are added to the spacious chords, creating an atmosphere not unlike a more ‘cosmic’ take on PJ Harvey’s White Chalk material. Thrumming bass slowly fades in, adding a sinister undertow, until distant drums start up and all other sounds are washed out by coruscating feedback.
From out of the feedback, mangled chords and shivering shards of synthesizer appear, joined by clattering, tumbling drums – not unlike Khanate at their most wilful – and a hoarse, commanding snarl begins to declaim. This is twisted, avant-sludge at its finest and most uncomfortable, ceasing only when we finally dissolve into brutally clubbed drums and the ghost of an amplifier hum.
Locrian alone can be an intimidatingly spooky proposition, but adding the extra fug of ethereal smoke that Mamiffer emit produces a match made in….well….I won’t say ‘heaven’, but you catch my drift…
Scribed by: Paul Robertson