Sometimes albums drop in December without making a sound, as the world is busy with other things. But The Singularity, Phase I is so loud and so powerful that it’s bound to make an impact, like the crater left by a rampaging kaiju. Left to one’s own imagination, with nothing but “Alpha” and “Beta” sides, the listener is free to imagine the monster on the cover ravaging his or her own city. The vinyl is neon blue, and the accompanying art print glows in the dark, so after the lights go out (it’s only a matter of time, look at the size of that thing) one will still be able to find the LP.
This may be the first collaboration between drone artist Thisquietarmy (Eric Quach) and percussionist Away (Michel Langevin of Voïvod), but as indicated by the title, it won’t be the last. It’s been a long time since we’ve covered Thisquietarmy, but here he sounds rejuvenated, playing like Nero as Rome burns, although in this case the whole world is burning and a lone kaiju seems more like a quaint, even nostalgic threat. And unlike Nero, Quach and Langevin seem to care, offering the music as a final score to a world on fire, rather than as a self-centered diversion. The very fact that these disparate artists were able to find common ground is cause for encouragement.
“Alpha” sets the groundwork with a swiftly growing drone, but as soon as those drums descend, there’s no turning back. Rhythmic and pounding, they offer a superb partner. Langevin holds back on the cymbals for a bit so they will be noticed when they arrive. Quach gets into a groove. It’s off to the races, or perhaps more appropriately, it’s time to run for our lives as the buildings crumble. Synth joins guitar to create that sci-fi feel. Toward the end of the first part, the drums slow down, offering a short respite; perhaps the beast is looking another way.
Oh no, he’s turning back! We should have known better. Public track “Alpha 0000 0010” expands from blighted beeps to a period of plunder. Growing ever faster and more frantic, this mid-section is incredibly energetic, to the point that one expects blisters to appear on the palms of the artists. The changes in tempo and timbre throughout the set establish a sense of dramatic tension, but the fun part of the album is that it’s exciting without being scary, like those old 50’s films in which we temporarily suspend our knowledge that the kaiju is really a man in a rubber suit or a tiny figure filmed by Harryhausen’s hand. As the even louder “Beta” approaches, we start to wonder if there are two kaiju, approaching from opposite ends, headed for a dynamic showdown. Perhaps these kaiju are Quach and Langevin, who settle their differences and eventually team up to battle a third kaiju … but for that we’ll have to wait for Phase II. (Richard Allen)