I’m not too familiar with the Electronic music scene in Ottawa. However, from the sounds of Pillar of Ire, a self-released mini-album from sbsst (aka Eric Moore), I’d say folks there are catching up to the lust of their neighbors in Montreal some 200km East. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, look up the Mutek Festival.
From a quick email exchange, Moore identified some influences, most of which shine through on Pillar of Ire without aping them. When I first put this record on, it was clear to me that Moore had been touched by the sounds of Burial. He validated my suspicion, as well as pointing out how he had transitioned from an Ambient Metal feel (ISIS, Converge, and Boris) to incorporating a Dub and Techno heavy feel informed by the likes of Lorn, the aforementioned Burial, and Clams Casino.
The clearest intersection of these varying influences arrives with Moore’s first ambient piece, “Time to Meet the Devil”, and then leads into “Shrine”. “Time to Meet the Devil” is walled in by these horrorscape synths that bellow the Demon’s voice. Seemingly directed at a new resident of his eternally painful lair. The simple melodic motif signals the oncoming shift in form and variation that follows in “Shrine”. “Shrine” immediately delves into drum programming patterns that enjoy not only a familiarity with Lorn’s “Dead Dogs”, but also the stuttered Dub and Jungle-isms of Lance Grabmiller. Interestingly, the attack belies the tempo, which makes for a nice swing effect at moments, which is not altogether prominent in a lot of darker Techno. And while Moore identified ISIS as an influence, I hear a clear lineage to Mustard Gas and Roses (on “Time to Meet the Devil”). Mustard Gas and Roses is a side project of Mike Gallagher’s, who happened to be a member of ISIS. Gallagher is known for his proclivity to drone and dirge.
Speaking of dirges, “Pass Beneath” is certainly as such. The track slowly plods through nightmare-scapes. The quick-ping and well panned echo of the high end drum sounds warmly recalls aesthetics shared by the Third Eye Foundation and SHU:DO. Now that I think of it, with those two artists in mind, this lends itself nicely to Moore’s efforts to blend Ambient Metal and Dark Techno in a way that seems to avoid being pinned down as one or the other, yet a sweet hybrid instead.
While guitar is his “natural instrument”, it is nice to hear him moving away from a dependence on it and instead utilize it as an atmospheric prop. He mixes it nicely with huge synth washes that give a heighth to sbsst’s sound and counterbalance the tempos effectively.
By no means is this a debut record, but it certainly seems to signal a shift forward in Moore’s compositional and aural approach and mindset. I like where he is moving with this, unafraid to smash Ambient Metal and Dark Techno together. Whatever shall we call this hybrid micro-genre? (Gabriel Bogart)