Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain is yet another piece of the Arvo Zylo puzzle. This frenetic release carries Zylo’s ongoing experiments with chance, failing technology, and gear malfunction to a wholly occult level. Zylo traces esoteric lines of chance, fortune, and kismet into a bombastic, pulsating work of kinetic energy; densely textured waves wash over one another, creating perceptible yet barely distinguishable polyrhythms. The titular track is a solid quarter-hour of electronic texture which never lets up in its ferocity. At times reminiscent of the warping loops of Aaron Dilloway, “Falling Tower” feels very much like an explosion in slow motion, the sound of scattered rubble falling in quarter time. An earlier interview with Zylo provides some insight into the motivations and inspirations for this release:
“I saw what was the image of the tarot card Falling Tower when I was meditating, but I don’t know much about tarot. I was looking online for the tarot interpretation of playing cards because I keep finding playing cards on the ground. In one week I had two tarot readings that had The Tower (“explosive transformation”) in it. […] That same week, I saw an episode of Night Gallery that features Vincent Price. Price plays a sorcerer who, at one point, is eating dinner with a relative that turned himself into a goat. The goat’s name was ‘Falling Tower.’ There was a lot of serendipity around this time regarding the concept, but to be honest, I don’t remember all of it. It’s right around when I did this track, and I thought it framed the audio well for several reasons, still does; more now than ever. Come to think of it, Dominick Dufner (Sigulda, Side of the Sun Recordings) happened to photograph me in front of Vincent Price’s star in St. Louis, so it makes sense that he’d be releasing this cassette, as a matter of chance. Sara Holloway pulled The Tower card not too long ago, and she is doing the art for the release.”
“Explosive transformation” is an excellent descriptor of Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain. Densely textured bass rumbles churn beneath chime-like tones and intimated vocal chants. Just when the ear adjusts to the current rhythmic structure, a layer fades, distorts, and twists itself into a new formation; imagine the ouroboros continually engulfing itself while simultaneously shedding its scales.
The B-side opens with “Terrible Fountain,” which is equally aggressive in its initial strike but much less dynamic. Where “Falling Tower” is an expression of dynamic transformation, “Terrible Fountain” is more of an examination of a pattern, gazing/falling into a fractal spiral, moving closer to a piece of large machinery and discerning new tones as the distance sound waves travel shifts. Zylo has already mentioned meditation as a personal practice, and “Terrible Fountain” would certainly work as a meditative tool. The steady tonal focus of the track serves as a base from which its subtle transmutations rise and fall, almost imperceptibly.
The final track, “House of God,” features Dolores Dewberry, though in what context is difficult to discern. This piece is by far the moodiest composition, with damp, pulsing chimes rising and falling out of silence. Having seen Dewberry live on several occasions, this track definitely fits with some of her more recent work. Part distorted bell, part malformed amphibian croaks, “House of God” is dark, creeping, and far less animated than the other two tracks on Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain. An educated guess assigns Dewberry credit for the general sounds, with Zylo working as an architect or arranger. While still rhythmic, in a sense, the timing is more organic, less mechanized. Coincidentally, and in the spirit of strange synchronicity, Correspondences by Charles Baudelaire springs to mind:
“Nature is a temple where living pillars
Let escape sometimes confused words;
Man traverses it through forests of symbols
That observe him with familiar glances.
Like long echoes that intermingle from afar
In a dark and profound unity,
Vast like the night and like the light,
The perfumes, the colors and the sounds respond.
There are perfumes fresh like the skin of infants
Sweet like oboes, green like prairies,
—And others corrupted, rich and triumphant
That have the expanse of infinite things,
Like ambergris, musk, balsam and incense,
Which sing the ecstasies of the mind and senses.”
There is a strange sense of foreboding in the connection between the concept of the “House of God” and an implication of nature. Theologically, Lucifer was given the Earth to reign over after the failed rebellion in heaven—thus the realm of “Natural Law,” pleasures of the flesh, Earthly kingdoms can be argued to fall under his influence. This in and of itself makes missives from Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist (“Nature is Satan’s church”) and Melancholia (“Life on Earth is evil”) much more unnerving for those who give art a sort of transcendent truth towards examining life. If “House of God” is going for a sense of malevolent dread, the track succeeds. Though, to be fair, for a fair amount of conjecture and personal implications, there is little room for objectivity. All this talk of tarot and synchronicity can distort imagery and tone to the point that every rising frequency and oscillating chime could serve as a stand-in for Gabriel’s horn.
Falling Tower, Terrible Fountain definitely holds appeal for those with an interest in the occult, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Aleister Crowley, and Arvo Zylo’s personal interpretation of industrial music. In a similar fashion to card placement in a Tarot spread, each piece of these compositions has a specific space, and their meanings can be interpreted only one by one. This release is recommended for those looking for something to delve into and discern, but not for a casual listening experience.
A1) Falling Tower
B1) Terrible Fountain
B2) House of God