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Justin Marc Lloyd – Year of the Water Dragon Vol. I

Here’s a simple question that I’d like to pose to the noise-obsessed readers out there:  does this man ever stop working?  Mystified and Merzbow both get a ton of press for their prolific nature — and it’s certainly well-deserved — but it’s hard not to be impressed with the unwavering amount of quality material that Lloyd continues to churn out, whether it be from his many collaborative efforts or from his solo outlets in False Flag, Pregnant Spore, and, more recently, his own name.  On top of this, when he isn’t recording and composing new abstract works for these projects, he’s putting a great deal of time and attention towards others’ efforts with Rainbow Bridge Recordings, granted 2012 has been somewhat of a dry year for projects that aren’t his own (Cincinnatus C and Palatial only, it seems.)  Regardless, Lloyd’s output under his own name has been relatively limited in his three strong years as a recording artist and 2012 has been more or less the extent of that production, seeing the release of the digital “Extremely Loveless Hopeless Terrifying God Damn Fucking Insecurity-induced Panic” on Swamp Circle and both this tape and the “Abstract Yoga” CD-R on Rainbow Bridge.

Needless to say, he’s been busy enough with his normal routine, but has managed to solidify a proper glance into his true self from the listener’s perspective with these recordings under his own name.  This entire tape is a bit more relaxed than those whom are familiar with Pregnant Spore or False Flag may be expecting.  There is too much going on both in the foreground and the background to have any part of it really be considered drone, but the background sound mirrors the genre in subtle ways.  The sound in the background of the opening portion of Side A is uncomfortable in a “Beware the Friendly Stranger” by Boards of Canada kind of way, simply being unsettling without the need to be oppressively dark.  Moments in the track will range from minimal beats that are buried in the mix as to not be a structural factor, to straight up oscillating fragments of chaotic experimentation in sound.  The abrasive end of the tape doesn’t lie within its harshness as there really isn’t a great deal of tonal brutality to be found, but rather its moments of pure spastic pandemonium and, ultimately, the levels of entropy that the improvisations arrive at in climactic releases of expression.

The moments between these descents into oblivion can create imagery of a march through desolate canyons as seen from the eyes of someone suffering from the effects of a psychedelic experience.  These expansive moments of choppy electronics and occasional but sparsely heard industrial ambient are surreal and remind me a great deal of the recent Fuka Lata album “Other Sides”, though the themes are far from similar.  “Medium Grounds for Senses” ventures much further into this surreal realm than Side A, almost excluding any hint of noise whatsoever in favor of a meditative but exceptionally desolate sound.  Much of the track amounts to ambiance without much of an ethereal atmosphere to it — it’s substance without the emotion.  It’s almost numb yet equally bizarre.

The coloring and the impossible-to-describe hand-drawn imagery on the album artwork only add to this psych-surreal impression which adds a fair amount of character and texture to both sides of the tape.  There isn’t much on “Year of the Water Dragon Vol. I” to knock outside of its sheer length.  This thing is somewhat a marathon, clocking in at over an hour long, and though both sides of the tapes are different enough from one another to stand on their own in the end, it still makes for quite a lengthy listen that unfortunately feels more drawn out in the end than it needs to be on both accounts.  Certainly a unique effort, but one that will probably need to be taken in chapters.

Track List:

A1) Your Eyes>Filter>Image
B1) Medium Grounds for Senses

Rating: 3.75/5
Written by: Sage
Label: Rainbow Bridge (US) / RB-132 / Tape
Experimental / Noise / Ambient Industrial