This 25-minute, single-track CD is part of a larger project, the hardbound book The Sensation of Being One of Them, credited to Dehn Sora, who is also part of Treha Sektori. It’s one of the most beautiful photo books we’ve seen in a while, and the dark and lovely music makes a suitable partner. Sora is joined here by Sam Vehni (Muhd), while Ulver contributes patches of vocals.
But we’ve got to start with the book. Those familiar with the graphic art of the recent TV show Hannibal will find a soulmate here. A strange skeleton walks away from a glacial lake; a human/moose hybrid clutches his head in despair; splayed animals are gathered under glass. Poetry and thoughtful fiction lend sinew to the images and guts to the music. Sora finds beauty in broken bones and hope in the entrails of chaos. But while these works of art may dismay the common viewer, they are also holy: cleansed and reverent.
Without the music, the book would still be worth the purchase, a gray cover hiding tipped writing; one needs to tilt the book to see it. But without the book, the music would still be worth the purchase as well. A perfect choice for Halloween, The Sense of Dust and Sheer is a four-part suite that travels the road from incantation to horror to comfort, all in less than half an hour. With not a single misplaced step, the Treha Sektori collaboration surpasses the contributions of any individual performer and deserves to be regarded as a dark classic. It never goes where one expects, but when it arrives, listeners will realize the wisdom of the journey.
After a short and gentle launch, the piece opens the door to ritualistic drums and incomprehensible chants: the realm of dark ambient and the specialty of the Cyclic Law label. As the drums and chants grow more insistent, they topple into an ever darker segment of whispers and booms. But then, just as one’s ears have adjusted, a tender center emerges, in which the guitars swirl and nestle. All is not lost after all. Now when the vocals return, they seem like those of lost monks, yearning for an absent God while clutching sweat-stained beads.
On and on the battle goes, like demons and angels wrestling over a soul. Shadows bleed into the corners as the synths rise in volume. A harsher voice emerges late in the seventeenth minute, struggling for supremacy. But as hard as he tries, as much as he attempts to repeat his message, he does not have the final word. That privilege belongs to another voice, one of stability and grace, rising above the ashes to proclaim, “Now you will be safe.” The surface characteristics of this release – mutilation, desolation, darkness – are not its primary character after all. (Richard Allen)