Caaldruun — a name taken from a combination the German meaning of the artist’s last name and his love of the perception of the dual vowels in krautrock artist “Amon Düül”‘s name — returns now three years after his debut release, “Cloudface Mountainhead” was offered up to the world. This original album found artist Eric Kessel visibly shaken from the haunting nature and history that he was surrounded by on a 5 day hike to Machu Micchu in 2007/2008. As a city dweller, Kessel was affected by the eerie vastness of the land in that part of Peru, a fact which shows how the difference in one’s dwelling can affect their perception of the land around them. For instance, I have the exact opposite feeling — the land and the vastness of the world’s quickly disappearing open spaces is comforting for me, while the cold, concrete nature of ruinous inner-city buildings and gated alleys induces a claustrophobic reaction in me. I find these dead littered zones horrific if not uncannily spectral on both a literal and metaphorical level. This perception of different landscapes, however, is of particular importance to artists like Kessel whose work is seeded in the field recordings that give rise to the strangely organic electronic world of musique concrete.
It feels that with this new effort in “Headstone”, Kessel attempts to explore these concepts through imagery that takes us from the dirt that we will all one day become part of once again, to the gated metal and concrete wastelands that we leave behind. Indeed, the supernatural themes and ritual nature of Kessel’s ambiance is reprised on “Headstone”. Thematically, the album is influenced by the history of Woodside, New York — a rural “lost” community whose founding was plagued by various deadly manifestations that were rampant in frontier life of the time. Caaldruun seems to fit in somewhere between the moody, crackling subtle sounds of Daniel Menche and the ethnic dark ambient of Rapoon and Zoviet France all the while retaining a distinctly unique surrealism. Delicate oscillations pair with static that can swell in volume but never come to the point of harshness to create otherworldly pathways for the rest of the composition to follow. Distant percussive clicks and looped electro-acoustic electronics give Caaldruun’s greyscale world minimal texture, an inverted desolation that with tracks like “Headstorm” bring about imagery of the ghostly blackened rain that can only be seen pouring in black and white film. Deeply embedded pulsating looping rhythms give the album life while minimal ethno-ritual melodies bring about subtle, albeit brief, tones of color to the picture as a whole.
I believe the high-point of the album to be the track “Manyghosts”, a tenebrous industrial descent into the noisey, swelling, tense ambiance of artists like Gruntsplatter. A looping industrial clank leads the way for spirits marching on to the afterlife in soldier’s formation — a visualization stunning enough to match the scope of the track in it’s apocalyptic aural whispers.
If there is anything that could really be said towards the negative side of this album, it’s that the music within the album doesn’t exactly bring up the imagery hinted at inside the small booklet. Certainly the wild nature of Colonial living in the 17th century isn’t brought to mind through the music — something that may have been more readily remedied by a different approach to field recordings. Those were certainly bleak times for settlers and the music does get that across, however. This CD-R is limited to 25 copies and is still available, so if you’re a fan of this style of industrial ambiance, this is a rarity worth having.