SUBTERRANEAN SOURCE  Relic  CD   (Desolation House)   9.99

Another acquisition from the remaining Desolation House catalog, which produced some iof the heaviest, darkest, and most metal-adjacent post-industrial music of the early 2000's. Subterranean Source was one of the heaviest and most malevolent-sounding artists to appear in that series, with 2008's Relic delivering an excellent and immersive descent into bleak and doom-laden ambient sound that any and all fanatics of Cryo Chamber / Cyclic Law / Malignant should be experiencing as soon as possible. The second of three albums from Italian composer Andrea Bellucci, this project grows more claustophobic and mephitic with time, and these five lengthy tracks surround you in slinking shadows and cavernous murk for fifty minutes; it's an inescapable listen, dense and oppressive sound swirling and blooming and wilting in almost complete and total darkness.

We drown fast in a slow-creeping fog of distant metallic clank and percussive rustling, sudden gasps of impaled choir voices, billowing black wind coming in from every diection at once, the thirteen-mi9nute opener "Pagan Moon" sprawling out around you like field recordings of a fire ritual held in an abandoed warehouse. The air is thick with activity, Bellucci colors thick within his lines of ambient form, shifting the sound constantly and adjusting the harshness of his textures, every few minutes introducing new elements like murky rhythmic loops, spectral and chantlike groans seeping up from deep below, the sound warping at some m,oments into a fetid mixture of Yen Pox's magnified blood-drones and Autechre-esque abstraction. That particular ability is one of Subterranean Source's signature moves, and distinguishes the project from much of the "dark ambient" underworld that it is generally grouped in. Just that first track shows a creepy complexity and rhythmic strategy that sets it apart from the dire, minimalist droneology of Lustmord, early Zoviet France, Gruntsplatter, and Lull. It's just as creepy and atmopsheric as any of that stuff though, as chilly and deeply reverberant as thhe early 90's "isolationists" and as evocative and occulted as the "ritual ambient" set; there's a good reason why Subterranean Source has enjoyed a varied following amongst underground electronic / ambient enthusiasts despite having released only three albums through its twenty-year existence.

The other four tracks making up Relic are a continuing descent into shadow and hypogeal movement. It's just immense, evoking these vast vistas of hollow-earth ceremonial sites and tectonic movements, metal scraping against metal while oblique bits of melody churn in the background. Sounds woven into repeating motifs and physical rhythms that suck you into this massive rumbling dronescape. Ghostly rasping and hushed whispers quickly come and go, while those oh-so-vague melodic elements start to reveal themselves as fragments of orchestral strings and mournful horns launched into the void. Deep monk-like chants surface briefly, then obliterated by waves of cavernous reverrberation. Roars of unseen, gargantuan machines toiling in the deep. Shimmers of sharp metallic sound rings out loudly over surges of electronic grime and more mysterious, inscrutable voices. Garbled electronics and delay-damaged rattlings tumble through what must be cold, fetid air. While i wouldn't say that Relic sounds evil, it is definitely a serious creepout, every moment of Bellucci's incredibly dense soundcraft emanting utter darkness and shadow, making them an almost living presence. Like his other albums, which are every bit as ominous and chilling as this, the shifting world of subterranean ambience feels like an event unfolding before your senses, becoming more hallucinatory with each passing moment. Consuming you. Dissolving you.

I mean, if you're the type who's entranced by the ritualuistic, impressionistic ambient sound of artists like Funerary Call, Herbst9, the Aural Hypnox artists out of Finland, Zero Kama, etc., I really can't recommend this enough.

And play it loud.