Genres: Experimental / Dark Ambient / Minimal Post-rock / Raw Drone Doom
A DEATH CINEMATIC
01) Swimming in the Fires, where Oceans Touch the Sky
02) Locust Clouds have Taken to the Horizon
03) Mac Arthur Lineman, Wichita Park
A psychologist might label A Death Cinematic’s need to either have unique packaging, or at least control over the art of the packaging, obsessive compulsive. Your Fate Twisting, Epic in its Crushing Moments was surreal in the amount of subtle detail that was crafted into the packaging. Of course, as the artist’s second full-length, you could understand wanting to have something special (though from what I understand, the packaging for the first album “A Parable on the Aporia of Vengeance and the Beauty of Impenetrable Sadness” was impressive as well). Then came the Ekca Liena split, a release in which the artist had no control over packaging, which contained one of the more unique slip covers that you’ll ever see on an album, utilizing the cover underneath to completely change the perspective of what the album is about in terms of first appearances. Now we have this split with Great Falls, a release from Seattle, Washington’s Dead Accents label and while it’s certainly a little disappointing to see that this split was released in a simple gate-fold sleeve, given the fact that the album artwork is composed of A Death Cinematic’s own fantastic distorted sunset photography and unique illustrations from Great Falls guitarist Demian Johnston, its certainly more than adequate.
A Death Cinematic opens the split slowly with some very light and varied ambient drones, utilizing his trademark style of interweaving guitar loops of various qualities, volumes, and octaves. Unusual for the artist, the first track at times has a psych characteristic in the tone and fuzz used, as well as the noise-play generated towards the end of the track, a style that within minutes manages to vary enough to sound similar to the noised-out ending of “Shelter from the Ash” by Six Organs of Admittance and take a page out of the guitar sound on Agalloch’s melodic line in “Falling Snow”. In direct contrast to that track though, “Locust Clouds have Taken to the Horizon” comes in with welcome harshness, effectively tying the split together with the raw sound of Great Falls. Much like the title implies, this track initially imitates the buzzing sound of an insect, before morphing into the full out thick sound of a swarming horde. A Death Cinematic’s medium or artistic creation is improvised guitar, so the sound created in this respect is stunning, especially when paired with the following epic low-end melodic line and pulsing percussive note, all throughout which the buzzing sound is still sustained through layers. In the end, the track chills out with the purling sound of waves smoothly hitting the shoreline, alongside a jazzed out guitar structure that eventually erodes in a low number of layered, lightly flanged notes and a small ending in feedback.
It appears that Dead Accents is Demian Johnston’s own label, considering the sheer amount of solo material he has released on the label as well as the location of the label itself. It would seem that as a solo artist, Demian is a bit more prolific than the band featured here in Great Falls, even when taking into account the music that was written under the band’s previous name, Hemingway, prior to the addition of Phil Petrocelli on drums and Ajax Storm Wood on vocals. Regardless of that dedication to his own work, Great Falls has managed to secure an incredibly unique, and strangely addictive sound with their style of extremely stripped down raw doom/sludge. I’ve seen the project referred to as ‘noise’ several times which kind of seems like a cop-out in trying to define the artist’s style. Frankly, in the end, Great Falls sounds like a project that would fit in perfectly amongst many of the other raw, stripped-down styles featured in the At War with False Noise arsenal, alongside artists like Locrian and Marzuraan, though Great Falls is not in any way black metal-influenced. The percussion is similar in style to old school industrial with its bombastic, unending heavy dirge. Bass and guitar ring out in the background as a noise wall effect rather than any kind of sustaining melodic force. The icing on the cake is the gut-wrenching performance from vocalist Ajax Storm Wood. He doesn’t drop his voice into any kind of extreme metal mode to put a heightened effect into it — he just cuts it loose, belting it out with an intense personal brutality. While there’s not much technicality to the music, the atmosphere conveyed is more than impressive for a project that has only put out one demo prior to this single track.
It’s a little strange that two projects of such varied styles can fit so well together on separate sides. This split won’t make my top 5 of the year, but in a list that only contains splits — it would be put towards the top.