Well, it’s finally here, perhaps one of the most anticipated DIY independent releases of the past few years for fans of his unique vision, A Death Cinematic’s “The New World”. It seems that the project hasn’t caught on with the general audience of guitar drone and experimental Post-rock yet, which isn’t a big surprise given today’s download culture. A Death Cinematic’s releases stand as a pillar to the importance of the physical product, with the actual manifested release literally needing to be held and seen to put the music that has been created into context. As with the imagery that A Death Cinematic has been known to use and create, much of his music is influenced by the literature of Cormac McCarthy (The Road, Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men), and as such it is a bleak and often strange or abstract journey that, without the finished release, you’re only getting a partial view of. This is just a forewarning that if you’re going to download the album instead of check it out as it’s meant to be seen and heard, don’t expect to “get it”.
The sound on the record overall is very, very bleak and nomadic in that guitar lines are always moving, trudging along, barely forcing their way through existence. There aren’t any expressive, beautiful, lush movements on “The New World”, but rather we have a borderline psychedelic, slow-paced journey. ADC returns to this release with his trademark style of improvised guitar that can often pit two opposing guitar lines against one another in a mildly abrasive duel that eventually fade into working with one another. The emotions on the album are hard to grasp as they have an obvious air of depression and hopelessness to them but are slowed down to the point of an opiate-induced crawl. It’s less of a personally depressive existence though and more of a descriptive effort, a journey that takes you into the future to a collapsed world where industrial society has ceased and people are just taking it one day at a time, surviving, and pushing forward. There isn’t an ounce of positive implications to be had however, in fact if anything, the poem written and spoken by Matt Finney for the closing title track tells us that the future is only waiting to break up. Hopelessness, thus, takes the main stage in theme, creating minimally melodic guitar lines on tracks like “Sparrows Circle the Distance from the Gallows to the Sun” that only hint at a beauty that has since passed. The evolving state of the music and the improvised abrasive lines perfectly capture this new world of desperately clinging to existence and the jagged ruinous landscapes that lie in the wake of cataclysm.
“The New World”, as with all of A Death Cinematic’s releases, comes with a unique packaging that is hand-made on a “do it yourself” level that sets the standard for releases of it’s type. “The New World” comes packaged in a hand-built wood box that reminds one of Simple Box Construction’s own unique simple casket logo. Inside the box is a separate art-book release that has been packaged with this album to bring about a greater context to the work and the CD-R itself in a hand-made CD envelope. Multiple screen-prints are found throughout the release, including both sides of the CD envelope, the front and back of the box and the inside opening fold of the box with linear notes. I’m uncertain as to how A Death Cinematic adheres his images to his releases, but they’re done so in a way that makes them appear to be part of the box itself. Especially the image underneath the objects that the box houses is an impressive feat, utilizing the grain of the wood behind the image to create a surreal, dreary and blurred brown sky over an old road-side billboard.
The booklet is intended to act a release in itself and is not meant as a simple CD booklet for this release. Whereas “The New World” seems to tell a story outside the context of the creator’s own life, the booklet is inherently more introverted due to the images coming from the eye of the beholder and giving a glimpse into the creator’s own life in his area. From the photograph of a Detroit suburb’s “The Family Donut Shop” sign overlooking a separate business to numerous photographs of local power-plants and other industrial facilities, waterways, decrepit or prison-like housing, and roadways, it’s all imagery from eyes that see the coming of the end for the industrial age. It’s no wonder that the booklet begins with a simple photo of a backhoe and ends with a shot of wild birds flying in a flock. It’s a progressive view of collapse. In the end, its the bottom of the images that is most telling of the story involved, creating a unique flip book that over the pages created a pale horse whose symbology is obvious. A red cross is included in the end as well though which is a symbol of mercy and brings multiple new levels of interpretation to the booklet. In the end, the booklet simply states in a Shakespearean manner, “Thou art the hopes slain by the hands of our enterprise.” With that, “The New World” is certainly not the end for A Death Cinematic, and is as cryptic if not more-so than previous releases. Separate, these two releases would be close to a perfect score, but together, they deserve nothing less.
01) When the Sun Settles into the Horizon we Remember our Rivers
02) Mountains Choked with Smoke, Release the Trees Down their Hillsides
03) Sparrows Circle the Distance from the Gallows to the sun
04) Our sorrows Pile up in the Night’s Lament
05) As the Lights Fissure the Night Skies, our Eyes Grow Pale at the Horrors Beheld
06) The New World