WILT  Cold War Cold World (Zeitgeist Movement Vol. 3)  CD   (Phage Tapes)   9.99

Sounds from just beneath the surface of a world in the process of annihilation. A pre-causal record of seismic activity and ghost tremors from Bikini Atoll. A catalog of thermonuclear indifference and trace echoes from reconnaissance satellites, pulled from secretive CIA remote viewing sessions. A continuation of a series that stretches back all of the way to the year 2000, with the first volume appearing on the much-missed dark ambient label The Rectrix, followed by the second that showed up on Annihilvs in 2006. That stuff is some of my favorite Wilt material ever. And here we are with the third volume materializing in 2022, sixteen years on from the previous, and James P. Keeler's Wilt expands its vision of mid-to-late twentieth-century clandestine Cold War horror so much further than before, trapping you as the listener in a series of consecutive , probably chronological nightmare recordings a la Kyoto Professor Yukiyasu Kamitani, lasered into this disc and then etched into your neural web. Listening to this immense album, everything around me turns black and burnt. The fourteen pieces of near-infrasonic obliteration audio have titles that can easily lead the listener into the bottomless rabbithole of nuclear chess-play and freakish espionage that gripped our planet in decades past, but me, I'm just soaking in the sound for the moment.

And it is bleak. Wilt is never the artist to go to if you're looking for a brighter outlook, but Jesus, he's painting the air here with irradiated charcoal and radioactive ash. And it is, as usual, perversely beautiful work. Cold War doesn't really lend itself to a track-by-track examination; each piece folds into the next to create a contiguous impression of nuclearized, totally depersonalized doom. It moves through you. Deep, endlessly deep cavernous drift spotted with clanking metallic rhythm, jittery heavy machinery moving slowly amid the shifting of pipe structures and titanic slow-motion construction work. Softly burbling synth-drones floating aimlessly around subterranean field recordings and repeating patterns of electrical waveform. Intensely atmospheric and vast-sounding, shifting and skittering noises and impossibly distant rumbling, with amorphous melodic elements phasing in and out of range. A seamless assemblage of subtle low-frequency reverberations and mechanical sound that blurs together into an oceanic mass. The mix is fantastic, with sounds and sonic events separated as to surround you completely. Immersive. Immense. Intricately crafted dark industrial ambience that works with a combo of performance pieces and found sounds, which per the album notes was put together inside two abandoned silos. It feels like you're right in there with 'em. Tape noise manipulations, rattling objects, the subliminal hum of short wave radio sound and fluorescent lighting fixtures. Bits of an actual drum kit transformed into tectonic drift generators. Circuit-bent electronics and Casio synthesizers and samplers chained together into a huge, breathing presence. Some parts of Cold War lull you into a dull haze, sprawling Lustmordian vapors buffeting your senses from every direction, and then suddenly you're sucked into an intake vent with ominous grinding noises, thick electrically-charged energy fields, ice-cold artificial tones that decompose before you, shattered mainframe computer systems gargling out indecipherable code, hypnotic loops of human panic and terror in anticipation of thermonuclear death as the ICBMs prepare for launch, and great flowing currents of blackened sine-wave nerve abuse, bursts of bizarre choral textures, stacked together into something that pushes you into increasingly oppressive, depressing, almost suffocating states of suspension. Gusts of fouled, toxic breath. Ash swirling around shadows burnt into the floor. Crushing isolationist heaviness. Crushing hopelessness. Nothing here has been touched by the sun.

Phage mentions that this experience is considered "Post war cold electronics". I completely agree. One of Keeler's best.