Here’s some advice we seldom hear: best played at medium volume. Remanence (Brian McWilliams, previously covered as Aperus, and John Phipps) also recommend that the music be played at night so the nuances can blend with “the muted atmosphere of a quiet environment.” They are right; these drones are poorly suited to sunshine, preferring to exist in the backgrounds, corners and closets, seeping out as the night descends. The dark ambient gurgles and long, slow drones are akin to those of artists on the Cold Spring label, though Remanence admits a slice of filtered light.
The music matches the mood of Good Friday: storm clouds moving in, covering the skies; rocks splitting open; corpses rising from the dead. The tolling of a bell in “Subterrain” cements the association. The duo refers to their music as “the sound of best-laid plans falling apart;” it sounds like dejection and defeat. Later in the track, one hears what seem to be faltering airplanes, shimmering sirens and stuttering static .
And yet there is more to the album than this, just as there is more to Good Friday than death. “Sentinel Species” shelters a chorus of crickets and frogs, providing an aural balance. As the set progresses, the tracks unfurl and then are remixed, like initial impressions revisited and revised. The physical edition includes a set of art cards, images scratched and abraded in a manner that mimics the music. If one can see beauty in the images, one should be able to hear beauty in the notes, and vice versa: damaged but not destroyed, wracked but not ruined.
The most dissonant noises surface in “Metal Clouds,” countered by a foretaste of melody. And as one track is recreated in a “Distortion Mix,” it’s easy to imagine a corresponding “Clarity Mix,” in which all becomes clear, a dark mirror polished and restored. The liner notes begin with Florian Sievers’ quote, “drones are the voice of the universe.” If suffering connects us back to the divine, perhaps it has a purpose after all. (Richard Allen)