I certainly won’t be the first or the last to comment with a heavy heart on the imminent demise of Hydra Head Records. However, it must be said that Hydra Head has been a phenomenally consistent, inspiring and influential force in underground music over the last two decades. After all, these are the guys who have championed artists as varied as Torche, Botch, Khanate, Merzbow and Boris, while taking such joy in physical formats and engaging packaging. They wind down operations this December, but in the meantime, from their final run of releases comes this split LP by noise/post-rock collectives Mamiffer & Pyramids.
Mamiffer are formed of Hydra Head main man Aaron Turner (ex-Isis) and graphic artist Faith Coloccia (of Everlovely Lightningheart); the latter proves to be the common denominator on this split release, as a core member of Pyramids alongside M. Dean, M. Kraig, R. Loren and D. William. Indeed, this may explain the strikingly common vision to the sonic explorations mounted by each band on this split.
Mamiffer’s ‘Sophia’ opens with terse guitar distortion, bubbling like thick tar below a brittle piano movement. This soon dissolves with little ceremony into a long swathe of phasing tape hiss, as the backpedalling sound of a mellow, reversed guitar line unravels over the shifting landscape like yarn.
‘Ticha Noc’ billows early, its opening chimes swiftly drowned by a mountainous rumble and Turner’s distorted affirmations. Thereafter, it splutters like a radio receiver lost on a floodplain, sharing static-whispered accounts of rainstorms and driving wind as Coloccia’s pious, captivating harmonies float above the dark whirr of barbed noise, eventually multiplying into a devastating choral chant.
Pyramids, meanwhile, present ‘This is One for Everybody’ – an appropriate title for a track that morphs between a wide range of atmospheres in its course. Unfolding with an industrial-tinged barrage over warm rays of synth and echo, it launches into its erratic march with a joyful lawlessness, sometimes charging, sometimes tripping (and often grooving), while chains rattle and animalistic snatches of fried waveforms howl at the margins. Overall, the track yields a positive vortex of sonic abstractions – trailing textures, astral keyboards and spliced vocals that hang over every extremity like a thick fog.
Though this release will be unlikely to appeal to those who are unmoved by slow-burn, droning post-rock, it is certain that many Hydra Head fans will find much to appreciate here. Both bands display a mastery when it comes to manipulating sound to create sonic collages much greater than the sum of their parts. It’s no mean feat that the aural journeys they present are able to gracefully evolve and (on the whole) avoid stagnation as consistently as on prior releases. What Mamiffer and Pyramids offer up here is evocative and cinematic – an alchemist’s clouded laboratory of glass, smoke and transmuting metal; and if you’re open to it, you might stumble across a glimmer of gold in the haze.
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Scribed by: George Leeming