We often try to comprehend the reason behind dreams and nightmares. It has baffled oneirologists all across the globe and many speculative theories have been conjured to fathom the occurrences of these bizarre and surreal visions. Sometimes they are so harsh and magnanimous that they leave a never ending imprint on our minds and we try to ascertain our speculations regarding such visions through art. Such is the effect of Funerary Call’s brand of audio terror which evokes nightmarish visions and encompasses the listener’s mind with horrific images. The Vancouver based artist H. McFarlane conceived this project in 1994 as a means to exploit his creative impulses through harsh, blackened noise and dark ambiance which was not going to be restrained by boundaries of any kind.
After almost 20 years of existence, Mr. McFarlane is back with a new opus entitled as ”Fragments From The Aethyr”, released on July 17th via Crucial Blast Records. This was his second release in 2012 along with ”Nightside Emanations” which was unleashed on Malignant Records during June. Two back to back releases from McFarlane within a year is a good indication of his increasingly sinister musical abilities and are sure to remain favorites for enthusiasts of the genre. Few artists have had a similar impact on me as Funerary Call (CA). The gut wrenching, abysmal and ancient atmospheres which are emanated through him are otherworldly and harrowing. If you are a lurker at the threshold of darkness and seek a portal to channelize dark Cthonian energies, then FFTA would provide you with the perfect soundtrack. Just as what the introductory paragraph of the review stated, FC’s cinematic ambiance is akin to bizarre nightmares, almost comparable to the Lovecraftian one’s of yore. While listening to this new record, imagine yourself walking amid the vast, gargantuan Cyclopean cities, hearing the daemonic sounds reverberating through the colossal structures.
These surreal visions are manifested through the macabre instrumentation exhibited on the album. There are three hymns which reveal these glimpses of the ‘fragments from the aethyr’ and they enact as a Triptych of horrific monstrosities, embodying abstract visages of dread and malice. The hymns, as expansive and elongated they are, incorporate intricate usage of various elements which are juxtaposed together to provide the discomfort and distress which FC’s trademark sound is known for. Although, this time, his ideas are even morose and these lengthy compositions reveal nauseating cacophonies which are orchestrated with the use of violin, metallic drones, ritualistic percussion and harrowing annunciations. McFarlane has utilized the services of S. Hache (Mitochondrion) for composing guitar drones, Lashen for the violin sections and on percussion is McFarlane himself. These three musketeers are pivotal for the unique sound of the album, although it’s hard to believe that a bunch of humans were responsible for the inhumane dirges of depravity which are on display here.
There is a subtle hint of the sound of ‘Dark Waters Stirred’ to be found, although the amount of odiousness has been raised to escalating heights of insanity. It has been made possible due to the pitch-black dissonance of the violin which weaves a decrepit aura, reminiscent of the haunting epiphany of chamber music. Univers Zero’s somber, spiraling mass of sonic frenzy displayed on the classic ”Heresie” comes to my mind. Although the mystique is similar, FFTA is a tad bleaker and excruciating while employing the violin sections. Certain segments on ”Libation” and ‘Fragments” are sure to make the listeners feel uneasy and swamp them with a wave of bitterness. Layers of scathing guitar drones are prodigiously merged with the said violin segments to derive a heaving mass of torturous sound, which constantly drags the mind into despair. ”Libation”, the album opener drowns the listener with a mass of sonic frenzy through its traumatic semblance and continues to trample the brain with each progression. A perfect initiation to the Lovecraftian nightmare about which I talked above.
”Fragments”, the 18 minute monster is the highlight of the album and its hideous charm is relative to a dark modern classical composition. The violin really paints disturbing pictures of melancholy and a never ending torment as the hymn progresses. It marks a gradual descent into the nightmare once it was initiated through ”’Libation” and marches onto the next realm of obscure dimensions which are to come ahead. The monotonous rhythmic ambiance provides a funereal essence which pervades throughout the track.
The aptly titled ”Transference From the Void” marks the finale of the delirium through the ghastly drones and ghoulish chants of the creatures of R’lyeh. A woeful end to this audacious journey is certain. The militia of the Great Old Ones has arrived to cast a shadow of death; waiting greedily to devour the lurkers of the kingdom of Cthulu and put them out of their misery. All attempts to escape are put to vain.
Hearken! The funerary trumpet has been blown and the rites of absolution have been announced. This is the last step towards decadence; a paroxysmal fall into the oblivious pits of the fathomless abyss. As you prepare for the never-ending fall, think about the most dreadful moments of your life and compare them with this experience. You would realize that the artist has been successfully able to enliven some of your most wretched fears through his masterful work of sonic terror.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”. Transcend this fear of the unknown and venture into the demented sound track of ”Fragments From the Aethyr”.
3. Transference From The Void