ACTUARY / GNAW THEIR TONGUES  split  LP   (Black Horizons)   19.99

Two Crucial Blast alumni teamed together for this solid split LP that came out in 2016 on the excellent Black Horizons label, with both bands belting out some bleak, intensely abrasive blackened noise dredged out of the sonic Styx.

Unsurprisingly for anyone who's already borne witness to the often nightmarish electronic hellscapes that LA-area noise vets Actuary has previously unleashed, their material on the A-side of this record is suffocatingly dark and oppressive stuff. The two tracks ("A Grand Tradition Of Overreaction" and "Concrete Outings ") each unfurl into huge swathes of rumbling machine noise and unnerving mewling drones that are further strafed with bits of malfunctioning high-voltage electronics, merciless junk-noise avalanches, screams of crushed computer hard drives, ultra-heavy low-end klaxon-like blasts, huge swells of violent, distorted throb and constant surges of immense, ravenous deep-space gamma-static. These guys have always worn their Bastard Noise influence proudly on their sleeve, and that style of fearsome psychedelic electronic overload pervades the entire side. All of their elements congeal into a roiling, fearsome, rhythmic mass of sound, hinting at times at the occult cosmic ambience of classic outfits like Herbst9 and Inade, while also emitting a hideous harsh-noise noise element that moves this into a far more abrasive and alien direction. The dread level is high here, every moment swathed in a strange apocalyptic vibe that both mesmerizes and discomforts, their controlled, heavy-as-fuck chaos issuing deadly levels of radiation.

Gnaw Their Tongues counters with an interesting blend of field recordings, free-form clatter and stygian ambience over on his side, with ululating voices and raucous shouting that at first manifests as feeling like you are racing through the dimly-lit back alleys of a Moroccan marketplace, but then quickly locates and plunges through a jagged hole in the earth as "Blood Rites Of The Hex Temple" descends through a black-fog delirium of dreadful orchestral brass, insectile percussion, whirring noise and booming tympani. Like some ketamine-fueled night-terror that is scored by a collaboration between Ligeti or Penderecki and Nurse With Wound, the rest of the side continues to unfold into an utterly chilling likeminded symphony of dread, as "Into The Fire Thou Servant of Pain " and "As Above So Below" spread out with blasts of dissonant and terrifying orchestral sound, gurgling murky electronics, swathes of witchy, screechy violin sections, groups of ceremonial chanting voices, tribal beats, and endless torrents of AMM-esque improvisational drumming, only later becoming possessed by the gibbering demonic shrieks that are Mories' trademark with this project. The use of acoustic sounds, freeform clatter and field recordings set this apart from what you might expect from a Gnaw Their Tongues experience. It's more of the band's signature sound, overwhelming and dense and abstract, and thoroughly hellish.

Very nicely presented with a beautifully laid out and minimalist visual aesthetic, using some really striking landscape photography to match the desolation that was undoubtedly left in the wake of this recording. Limited to three hundred copies.