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Empiric – Familiar

Empiric is a new project from Jim Haras of Deterge and the Fusty Cunt label, among other things. Operating out of Chicago, Haras has produced some of the most raw and bizarre material to emerge from the United States noise scene, usually orienting toward the violent and disturbed end of the spectrum. Deterge in particular is known for horrifically demented forays into power electronics/industrial destruction… With this project there is a turn toward more subtle ambience and a direction that seems to make a snapshot of post-industrial decay. The cover of the release shows a deserted parking lot with several discarded shopping carts laying about, setting a tone for the contents within. Bleak electronics blend with almost calming ambience at some points, although much of this cassette has a mood like the moments in a David Lynch film where something unexplainable is ominously and horribly wrong. More so than an immediate picture of decay attempting to decry society, this document attempts to take a different look, a sideways glance at the topic of urban blight, approaching decay with a fascination and inclination for the expressionistic and the surreal.

Side one, “Languid,” opens with some ominous synth textures that are evocative of emptiness and potential… the vastness of space enacted within the limitations of corporeal Earth reality. A plastic bag floating in the wind over shards of broken bottles of King Cobra and Olde English… a derelict picks at the garbage on the corner looking for something to eat. The emptiness and decay of the fall of empire, with skeletal remains of a society left behind for future generations to discover. Some of the textures on this side are reminiscent of Harsh Noise Wall rumble and crackle, but they are interspersed in a dynamic manner with material of a more ambient nature, eerie synths and strange muted chimes. The effect is like soul trapped in an unstable, yet oddly static environment, held between worlds and adrift in a limbo of discarded industry and effort. The demise of civility in the face of the fall of civilization. The recording has an organic, pleasant feel to it that rewards the attentive listener on repeated listenings… it is easy to overlook parts that provide subtle background detail on first listen.

The b-side, “Percolate,” picks right up where side A left off… a feeling of falling into a mist of smoke and grey nothingness. There are harsh noise aspects to this release that are used extremely tastefully, but the control of mastering and levels is such that the sound is ultimately pleasant, albeit at times unsettling. There is a strong attention to detail that makes this project stick out very prominently from other dark ambient material that I have heard. I would favorable compare this to the brilliant New York City electronic project Lussuria, with whom Haras shares some aesthetic similarities. Strange beeps and bleeps swirl throughout the latter part of side b, like being trapped in some sort of evil fax machine. An oddly futuristic end, furthering the dystopian atmosphere of blight and decay. I greatly enjoyed the material on this cassette and would be very much interested in hearing a longer release from this project- some really intense and unique stuff. An atmospheric and haunting set of electronics is contained on this tape, presented in a nice edition by the California-based Crown Tapes. Excellent material, recommended for fans of recent Hospital Productions material, as well as dark European death Industrial and dark ambient, and even the “Ottoman Black” record by Jason Crumer. Really nice stuff here, many kudos to Haras and hails to the Crown Tapes label again.

Rating: 4.5/5

Written by: Joseph Gates
Crown Tapes – Format: Cassette – Cat. #  – 0.3

Side A. Languid
Side B. Percolate
Genre: Dark Ambient/Electronic Minimalism/Post-Industrial