Remastered for vinyl by Lawrence English, Just Dead Stars for Dead Eyes should be able to attract a wider audience than it did in its original incarnation as a cassette. But first let’s thank the Italian Haunter label, who believed in the project in the first place, before it found a new home on Hallow Ground.
For a quarter of its length, the album seems like a long, undulating drone, enhanced by distorted speech. The effect is drift-like and dreamy, albeit dark ~ as one might expect from the title. The distortion levels are firmly in the red, rising as the drones gather, threatening to pop the sub-woofers. Had the album remained in this arena, it would have been effective, but not memorable. The shifts, however, push this affair to the next level.
Swiss artist Samuel Savenberg (S S S S) had just completed a residency in Südpol when he composed this release. (Look, four S’s!) His time there was not merely musical, but sonic. And when the music takes a slow dive halfway through the opening side, the deep nature of the recording is revealed. The voice dissipates, replaced by something like a mulched choir; field recordings begin to appear like tiny ghosts; the hallways come to life, while the holes are filled in. The type of residency is not revealed, but Savenberg seems to indicate that when he arrived, something else was already there. Electronic fragments fly around the speakers like bullets, but the darkness is not vanquished; at best, it merely retreats to the shadows. When only two minutes remain, a Carpenter synth begins to pulse. Do you really want to flip this vinyl?
Of course you do. You want to know what happens next. Again the album yields an element of surprise, as the side begins with Subtext crunches, seeming to establish a pattern. The percussion mutates into a more subtle series of chains, hits and breaths. The listener grows accustomed to the lack of light, crouching in the sonic dust, content. Less than five minutes remain. But then, like approaching sunlight, an ambient segment enters, paving the way for a closing segment of elegant piano. We look again at the title, and realize that dead stars still produce light. (Richard Allen)