“A double LP and the 19th album of 2012″?!!! At first glance, one can’t help but think, “that’s too much”. But No Life to Live is a rather special excursion for Jay Gambit, whose very name connotes this sort of project. On this album, the noise/drone artist is joined by a host of friends from bands such as Yuggoth, Opacities and Rosy Palms, and the presence of field recordings, mandolin and electronics does much to expand the sonic palette. A depressive nature is apparent in the title (previous titles include “There Is No Hope Here”, “Nothingness” and “Empty Rooms”), but the sounds are so intriguing that the tone is better described as claustrophobic.
As might be expected from a release of this length and an artist of this prolific nature, the album is somewhat sprawling. With no apparent editor, the artist is free to exercise every indulgence. This means two tracks in the 20-minute range, “How to Burn a Book” and the title track. Of these, the first is more successful; the second is marred at the very end by a too-obvious sample. In music, doom is best portrayed by sound, which lends itself well to open interpretation. Go for the jugular (in this case, the sounds of a whining boy intercut with a narrator speaking about having sex with God) and one risks self-parody. Better to pound a listener into submission, as demonstrated by the astonishing “All the Children Are Asleep And Dreaming”, an unrelenting, ferocious, ten-minute-long blast of unfiltered aggression. All the levels are in the red for this one, which is pure sonic nirvana. The longer, more restrained tracks could have used a generous serving of such violence.
Hidden inside No Life to Live is a great drone album ~ in fact, one of the year’s best. It may be unfair to dissect and re-sew up such an album, creating a personal Frankenweenie, but the squashed cover creature (a squirrel with mastodon tusks?) seems to imply permission. While others may prefer the quieter or more repetitive tracks, this reviewer’s perfect album reads as follows: “Coma Vision”, “I Saw the Sky [Intro]“, “Dead Air”, “Opiate Blanket”, “All the Children Are Asleep And Dreaming” and “The Sun Is Like a Bacteria”. Clocking in at a sprightly 38:49, this new album builds steadily to the aforementioned blast, then backs slowly away from it: not a moment wasted or a note out of place. The percolated, boiling water sounds of the new opening track dazzle with stereophonic effects, after which the original track order is preserved with excisions. Each selection blends into the next with matching keys and rising tension. Electronics continue to burble; guitar drones expand like helium in rubber; hisses and fizzes infiltrate the sonic field like angry unbled boilers. This is the outer limit of noise: the place to which unwanted sounds are sent, steaming with unresolved grudges. Mr. Gambit, don’t be upset that we don’t like everything; what we do like, we freakin’ love. (Richard Allen)