Charnel Transmissions (Cold Spring; CD/DL)
Smouldering drone with minimal creaks, builds so slowly on the latest from Stephen R. Burroughs’ project Tunnels Of Āh (since 2013). The album Charnel Transmissions opens with the bloated noises of Homage To The Landfill Dogs. There’s a whole lot of breathing electronics here, dark and sweltering atmospheres stimulated by a saw-like industrial edge. The edge is blunt, not dull. The title is so ambiguous but conjures images of destitute scavengers. After having seen the recent Wes Anderson flick this is not as animated (if you know what I mean). The concept of ‘charnel ground’ comes from the ancient verbiage of the Tibetan culture, in Sanskrit, and basically it has something to do with decomposition and putrefaction of bodies, perhaps led to another dimension, an afterlife. So there is a deeply steeped concept built-in.
Though this is a noise record, it’s more akin to field recordings of the underbelly of a gushing waterfall in Springtime, or the earth below us breaking into chasms. Stations Of The Skin-Bag, with its radio signaling and squelched voices, quite effectively sketches this sensation in a full shaded spectrum. This recording, the way in which it is layered and mixed, becomes somewhat timeless (to the latter few decades of the twentieth century and the recent two decades on this side of the millennium. It’s a whole lotta rugged terrain being covered acoustically. Continuing in a similar vein, in what could be a factory floor with an announcer over a simulated speaker system, distorted, going over procedure is the transmission Kosmiglot. It’s a dark mechanical place.
The raw ‘thwack’ of percussion (courtesy of Francis P.) combines with splintered vocal treatments and a meandering drone, developing a feverish and claustrophobic tenor. Here Is The Heap is a marriage of what sounds like chemtrail exhaust fused with pure mystery. It’s nefarious and distended, with an encoded and near inaudible voice repeating something about flesh, weapons and ‘the option of blood’. In the startling conclusion, Fissuring-Genesis-Great-Power, pulses of electronic energy like utility pole surging after a direct lightning strike. This becomes the skeletal ‘beat’ for the track with a subtle drone backing, and an elongated bell tone that emits an atonal feedback. The surges slowly erodes into the ether and an entering set of layered effects clang and sputter away at its own plodding pace. The warble and stride make this a slow-mo agitation that is an engaging cinéma-vérité for the senses, with every bit of static and crack. And it sputters into something monosyllabic, end transmission.