KEVIN DRUMM / JASON LESCALLEET – The Abyss

Erstwhile

Kevin Drumm: guitar, piano, electronics, tapes; Jason Lescalleet: Hammond 136J, Casio SK5, amplified objects, tapes, Dell XPS

Well, do those names ring some bell? They should, and I’m not writing a paragraph just to inform about what Drumm and Lescalleet have done over the years to deserve my utter curiosity for this double whammy.

Between dysphoric recollection and cynical disenchantment, the sonorities characterizing the first disc present a somewhat expectable aversion to the idea of obeying to strict rules. At the same time, a flawless organization is noticeable throughout the program. Following the initial chirping of birds in the self-explanatory “Dawn” we’re instantly thrown into one of the finest episodes, “Anger Alert”: a furnace of scathing frequencies morphing into a display of virtual passageways resonating deeply, suddenly leaving room to chordal brass blasts whose remnants die accompanied by a disembodied chant. With this track, the core of The Abyss‘ dissonant matter has begun to materialize. “Flaws Played Thawed And Flayed” brings to mind pessimistic visions in a spellbinding juxtaposition of acute pitches, clandestine rumbles and remote instrumental matters of the disfigured kind. “Abuse” will be exactly that for unsuspicious ears, and a gripping exercise in concentration for more attuned minds. “Boatswain’s Call EQ” makes the most of an adumbrative minimalism constructed upon mysterious voices from some tape and various species of motionless tones. The hypnotic “Outside Now” betrays human presences in the distant background, and resonates with the same will of surviving of a soul inhabiting a body subjected to open heart surgery, though a devastating barrage could suggest otherwise at the end.

The longest chapters are – not really paradoxically – the easiest to portray in words, in that they symbolize better than anything else the record’s central theme. The title track ends CD #1 with 33-plus minutes of hugely reverberating subarctic chorales and dilated orchestral apparitions surrounded by seismic subsonic manifestations, at times similar to the music of Lustmord (admittedly over-quoted in these circumstances) in almost disturbing fashion. Meaning that I didn’t expect to hear the “classic” choirs from the hades here; but there are, and prominent too. This transition towards dark ambient territories is the lone weak link in the album’s chain. At nearly 50 minutes, “The Echo Of Your Past” occupies the whole second disc. Beginning with a nocturnal bucolic scene replete with vociferous crickets and splendidly ephemeral echoes of vehicles and planes, the piece evolves to become a sort of cathartic submersion inside diverse acoustic environments. Two antipodean waves at the extremes of the audible range start depicting slow parabolas; a spectacular drone emerges to stick a heavenly icon on our nihilist brain. And, from there, the trip begins to include the good and the bad: palpitation and equanimity hand in hand, the necessity of being subordinate to the preceding noisier phases now entirely understood, the process of expulsion of rational waste – namely, people’s nonstop interference with “the” inner flow – finally kicking in. Oh, and the actual significance of “silence”, if this still makes sense for someone. That subliminal song before the ultimate answer, the murmur continuing amidst the faint lights. The collapse of everything. The night, again. How to explain this to who’s deceived in the name of “knowledge”?

The deterioration of angst as a means for discernment.

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