Written by: Sage
Genre: Drone Ambient / Experimental
01 A Dense Collapse
02 Mid Life Aftermath
03 With Invisible Walls
A Death Cinematic
04 Our Bones Yellow in the Sulfurs of the Disfigured Sky
05 The Winds Whip Torn Clouds to Rain and Soot
06 In the Fields on Fire, Watch them Turn to Black Smoke
07 The Nights are Black, Black as the Coals of our Bones
Small Doses has been pushing out a heap of stimulating new releases this year, and certainly not least on that list is this new split from Ekca Liena and A Death Cinematic. These are two newcomers to the world of drone and dark ambient and despite their currently short-lived involvement in the genre, they show a great deal of imagination and inspiration. Ekca Liena could fit right in with many of the veterans of the scene. While for all accounts the drone found within is fundamentally dynamic and complex, Ekca Liena (or Daniel Mackenzie) still manages to retain the disarming allure of spherical aural journeying. Some may already know his work with Duncan Harrison (whom once wrote for Heathen Harvest) in the project Plurals, but given the extremely limited press of their releases, you’ve more likely become acquainted with him through this solo project. What we have with Ekca Liena’s side of this split is a drifting three-track, high-quality composition. The three tracks offered remain cohesively drawn together, burying the listener in lulling electronic drones, simple sparse melodies, and various acoustic ambient templates to give the music a very slight experimental edge. All layers and related edges in the music are in a constant flux. The purling electronic qualities and simple guitar surrealism seem to give laudation to the likes of Aidan Baker and even the less dramatic moments of Fennesz while the spherical side sounds boundlessly like Cyclic Law artist Visions. The perfect soundtrack to twilight, as the album cover suggests. Serene and majestic until the very end when we’re welcomed to a small amount of extremely fuzzy distortion that welcomes us to A Death Cinematic’s side of the split.
Where Ekca Liena fits in with some more veteran artists, A Death Cinematic is, on the other hand, a creature all his own. His side of the split brings us back to more of an Earthly trance. Ambience that is heavy on guitar teamed with piercing melodic notes and pulsing fuzz distortion combine to bring a human, melancholic, nearly hermetic sound to the fold. The music comes across as lonesome and bleak, the aural twin to the atmosphere one would feel reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Outsider”. The duel guitar melodies are strange in that they begin together only to drift apart shortly after creating dissonance until they drift far enough apart that they just become separately timed version of the same melodic line, although they’d typically be an octave or more away from one another. Moments of minimal power chord guitar lines are used to add additional layers to the same melody. Sometimes a great deal of flange and feedback is used to expand the experimental nature of the music. The feedback and the fuzz seem to be ever-present throughout the tracks. The track titles hint at a post-apocalyptic world so its strange how personal these tracks can come off as. They certainly remind one of chaos and deterioration, lost hope and inhumanity but they’re never quite devoid of that inner touch.
The packaging for Preternatural is every bit as interesting as the music is on the release. ACDSleeve, a small UK-based music packaging company created the packaging for the release despite A Death Cinematic’s aptitude for creating beautiful packaging for his albums. They came through with an interesting twist on the original art. The CD comes packaged in a black handmade cardboard/construction paper sleeve with with two inserts: one two-sided insert meant to act as the album cover and another one-sided gatefold insert with the album information contained within it. The album artwork contains a blurred image of telephone poles backed by a sky nearing dusk. What appears to be smoke rises superimposed in the foreground. The spheres that are cut out of the sleeve, when the album cover is inserted, utilize pieces of the image to create a unique planetary system, complete with planets with rings and a multitude of colors. Beautiful, unique, and ingenious.