CAVERNOUS WOMB  self-titled  CASSETTE   (Einsamkeit ‎)   5.99

An older tape described as "Dark Ambient", but it's a bit more than that. This project is an alter-ego of the Olympia-area black metal band Huldrekall, a trio who leaned into the more psychedelic and folk-tinged aspects of the "Cascadian" black metal aesthetic by adding in acoustic guitar and mandolin; I have a couple of their tapes, and they’re pretty damn good. As Cavernous Womb, though, members Dylan Bloom and Clay DeVilbiss tap into the frequencies of Teutonic prog-influenced music and the dark ambient underground to create a similarly ritual-style experience through the use of percussion, vocals, synthesizers, and electric guitar textures. Other than this full-length tape that they released back in 2013, the only other stuff that Cavernous Womb has put out are a pair of splits, one with Aurora Bridge, the other with Mercury, both of whom practice a like-minded kind of low-fi ceremonial shadowdrone.

Berlin School meets cemetery ambience meets hazed-out arboreal ceremonial practice meets gargantuan drone-metal heaviosity. Two side-long tracks of astral crush. "Eigengrau " rumbles forth into a steadily building monolith of pulsating deep-bass drones, washes of metallic cymbal shimmer, huge bursts of distorted ambient doom-chords echoing all around you, a low-fi haze of tape hiss hanging like a thick mist. This vast glacial drone-crush is backed by that almost always-present drum kit, quick flourishes of hissing cymbals and tribal beats that rise in waves within the murk. The music evolves slowly, ritualistic and tranced-out, the space completely filled with the thunderous distorted low-end power chords and that primal drumming that's buried way down in the mix. Random noises and unknown clatter pops up amid what is obviously a live jam. Strange alien electronics and whirring synthesizers swoop and plummet through the air, large sections of " Eigengrau " transforming into this super-heavy, magma-encrusted hypnocrush, allowing you to lose yourself in the volcanic smog and warped electronics that sound like captured radio waves from a collapsing star, and horn-like tones bellowing from above.

It’s not what I was expecting when I originally picked this up. The smudgy, minimal art and layout had me thinking this was going to be a much mellower ambient excursion. I was incorrect. There's an almost industrial aspect to this with the intensive use of looping sound and metallic flourishes, but more than anything this side evokes something akin to the heaviest, most sky-eating moments of early 90s Skullflower, when Bower and DiFranco and crew were summoning titanic slabs of guitar and electronic feedback and carving them out into exquisitely heavy freeform psychedelia. But these guys have their own spin ion it, adding these touches of celestial electronics and incredibly brackish ambient pools of scintillating whirr that really blast your skull into another zone for almost twenty minutes, dissolving as it moves to intersect with the next piece.

“As the Snow Melted Away“flows right out of the preceding track. Gentle, rumbling notes swell and ring out and echo into a vast emptiness. The mood turns toward a meditative space, improvised percussion softly clinking in the depths, the lonely, reverberant guitar notes flaming out before they dissipate. Again, there's that quasi-industrial loopscape going on beneath everything else, that maintains the hypnotic pull Cavernous Womb create. It's a huge space of spare shadowy drones and whirring, pulsating, eternal loops, strange crystalline forms materializing and dematerializing. There is a vaguely musical form that takes shape, a minimal melodic series of guitar emanations, becoming more ghostly as it goes along. Like the A-side, this is around twenty minutes long, really allowing you to bathe in this strange luminous gloom for awhile. It's eerily beautiful, captivating and creepy, balancing open space with those layered drones, sometimes fading into near silence, other times surging upward in volume and power. I definitely get the feeling that the duo was going for a specific headspace here, that ritual-style repetition connecting everything. As you move through the second half of the song, haunting groans like ancient trees bending downward, and incandescent blurs of shimmering strings creep outward and merge together into a blissed-out cloud of sound.

Limited to one hundred tapes, each one hand-numbered.

Track Samples:
Sample : Eigengrau
Sample : As the Snow Melted Away