MOTHER OF SIGHS  self-titled  CASSETTE   (Anathemata Editions)   11.99

Another great musical project from the husband and wife duo of Terence Hannum (Locrian / Axebreaker) and Erica Burgner-Hannum (Unlucky Atlas), here working as a stripped-out duo compared to the full band setup of their amazing dream-pop/post-punk outfit The Holy Circle. With their eponymous debut as Mother Of Sighs, the duo pay homage to the era of horror film soundtracks that produced their name (their moniker is a reference to the classic 1977 Argento film Suspiria and incoporate elements of the grim post-industrial dronescaping Terence crafts with Locrian, heavy doses of carcinogenic noise, and sweeping nocturnal synthesizers that merge together into something grand and terrible. Murky eletronics melt together into sinister forms as primal drum machine rhythms thud deep in the mix, the high end cut out of the mix as opener "Black Bile" spills out into a brackish, bleary stream of gothic drone, stacked keys and pipe organ-style tones swirling into simple and chilling melodies while tortured screams issue out of the distant blackness. Definitely aims and hits a high score on the creep-o-meter, avoiding rote "retro" synthesizier stylings for something much more abstract and suffocating. It's really more like the sort of blackened industrial that ANNIHILVS seems to specialize in. But then things take turns for the morose as stuff like "Claustrum" weaves in those ethereal vocals from Erica amid a mellowed-out groove that sounds like something on 4AD circa 1988 on a bad trip. Multi-tracked singing and spare beats and beautiful, bleak melodic structures form out of the amorphous shadows, leading to the heavier synth-driven doomwave of "Anxia Corda" , which is positioned in the middle of the EP perfectly; each piece of music has evolved to this point, materializing as a dark pulsating dream that seeps into your awareness. That feeling of gothic grandeur reappears as "Ourself Behind Ourself" drifts in over your head, and again we're descended into a strange but intensely emotional deathpop mutation, billowing minor key chords and incandescent church organ drones winding around those lovely vocals.

That pair of songs make up some of the best music I've heard these folks put together, summoning a certain level of nostalgic bliss from old darkwave and synth scores but warping it gradually into something more malefic; when that other half-chanted processed voice appears over the end of the former song, it's pretty unnerving, just as it is when those narcoleptic ululuations drop like heavy black clouds into the abyss with the latter. The way that the tape swaddles these blissed-out pieces amid the opening driftscapes and the lengthy midnight ether of closer "Dysthymia" is handled almost perfectly, balancing the pure ambience of those haunting electronic fields with oh-too-brief passages of languid melancholy...man, it's lovely stuff, even as it all makes your hair stabnd on end.

Track Samples:
Sample : Dysthymia
Sample : Anxia Corda
Sample : Black Bile