CLIFF BASTARD  Recondite  CDR   (Dead Sea Liner)   7.99

A real oddball-lookin' small-press CDR from a mysterious solo outfit from Lee Husher. This super-limited (just sixty copies made) handmade, hand-numbered disc is a pretty fantastic piece of grim wasteland-ambient that gets deep into nightmare territory. In keeping with the general gnarled aesthetic of the Dead Sea Liner label (who has also delivered some great stuff from psychedelic sludge rock / blackened noise rock fave Korperschwache), this is a full-length album presented on a hand-stamped disc, housed in a all-black hand-painted wallet sleeve with another printed disc overlay inside with the track listing and minimal other info.

The sounds that Husher weaves here for nearly an hour are primo creepazoid drone, created from what sounds like a mixture of minimalist bass-drone, field recordings and possible concrete formations, and bursts of more chaotic electronic activity that rain down like some kind of transient weather event. The label drops Thomas Koner's name in their description of Recondite, and yeah, I can hear a heavy isolationist vibe. This is much more raw and intentionally unsettling, though. But fans of the darker end of this field and artists like Lull, earlier Lustmord, Kevin Martin's classic Ambient 4: Isolationism compilation, Main, Sleep Research Facility, the more esoteric ambient artists that Relapse / Release flirted with in the late 90s like Rapoon, Chaos As Shelter and (most of all, at least to my ears) Andrea Bellucci's work as Subterranean Source, all of that, this is good stuff.

Each song opens into a glacial sprawl of muted drift, possible guitar or synth feedback but it's impossible to determine, a low-volt electronic charge thrumming beneath everything you hear, underwater bubbling sounds or crackling cracking ice floes manifesting and dissipating before your ears. Eerie winds sweep across "The Group Of One Thousand", resembling the hum from a titanic prayer bowl. Metallic whirr melts beautifully into huge and ominous swells of low-end rumble, while portals open and emit choral-esque sighs and icy drift-clouds and strange, alien pulsations. The strangely titled "Whale" strays into some seriously creepy realms of churning abyssic drift and surges of abrasive sound, haunted by mysterious distant wails and howls, building continuously into one o0f the darkest and most chilling soundscapes on the album, while also finally revealing the haunting meaning behind the song's title.

At the end, things shift into slightly more structured form as "Interpretations Of Nico" integrates dissonant synthesizers, violins, and film-score style maneuvers to produce an even bleaker and blacker field of sound. Those staccato strings chirp and groan softly in the background as the rest of the sound evokes a ghost ship adrift at sea, waves crashing and surf rising, the violin-sounds turning frenzied and atonal and upsetting, building into a swell of grotesque spidery skree. The closer is essentially the second half of the album, the twenty-two minute "Teb 32" coming in from that oceanic chaos into more subdued, foggy fields of emptiness and desolation. Now this is what I call "isolationism" - this piece is vast and wondrous, alive with strange sonic events and movements but grounded with a surface of ambient thrum that gleams like polished obsidian. Spectral frequencies, deep-space transmissions, unearthly electronic patterns, spinning metallic whirr, extremely distant bell-like tolls, blurred bits of orchestral menace all make an appearance, but for the length of the song I'm simply being submerged, or perhaps subsumed, into this softly shifting sea of reverberant, dimly lit drift. Gorgeous and hair-raising stuff, freezing and sprawling, exuding an atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place as background music for an H.P. Lovecraft story.

Track Samples:
Sample : Therm
Sample : Open Shifting Waves
Sample : The Group Of One Thousand