SUBTRACTION, THE  The One Who Infests Ships  CASSETTE   (Land Of Decay)   8.99

A curious, unassuming 2012 cassette from one of the many alter-egos of the fleshmass behind longtime faves Rectal Hygienics and Abuse Patterns, high-ranking sleaze-pushers outta Chicago's scum-noise underground. But that's not what we're finding here, on this tape from Land Of Decay; I miss this label, the guys from Locrian who ran it had exquisite taste in boundry-nuking experimental sound and sinister aural entropy. This Ships tape has gotta be one of the most relaxing things that LOD ever spewed out though. It's a duo, Omar Gonzales (Rectal Hygienics, hell yes) working a mixture of tape noise and electronic sounds, Jason Soliday handling modular synth - both of these guys had also worked together in the malefic noise collective Winters In Osaka, so you go into this expecting to be licked by something in the abyss at some point. But the three songs that fill this out are also incredibly languid shadowscapes, benzo-soaked wanderings through a blighted urban waste, each one meditative in its own way.

Wouldn't quite call this "dark ambient" in the classic sense, though fans of the grittier and more abrasive artists in that field are gonna dig Subtraction. It's noisier than that. The strange coastal atmosphere starts out calm and pulsating and increasingly menacing as "Noden's Breath" crawls across the entire twenty minute A-side. Blending distant industrial rumblings and metallic reverberations with washes of caustic distortion, crackling filth, bizarre blown-out howls, mysterious percussive sounds, and peals of muted feedback, these guys wrap you up in a thick shroud of threatening dark drift, the sounds so thoroughly buried beneath a layer of low-end murk that it all swirls together into a bleakly beautiful mass of shadow, primed to birth some kind of nautical night-terror. That A-side is primo "death drone".

Things turn uglier with "The Violet Gas" and the title track, that brackish, fetid atmopshere and wafting electronic drone getting infested with bursts of rhythmic insectile chirping, whirling metallic loops, a deep and omnipresent heaviness slowly throbbing in the deep. Some of the more abrasive noises on the flipside almost touch upon power electronics territory sans anything resembling human vocals. But again, it's all slowly shifting and swirling, a weird fog of looping rhythmic samples and humming dread and creepy bits of static crawling all over everything, building in density and sprawl as that title track takes over the tape, a massive squall of hypnotic and menacing drone-noise that explodes into grinding intensity before stripping away once again to a spare, textural drone for a spooky coda .

The goddamn tape looks like it could be some bland New Age stuff, but Ships is actually a nicely unsettling gust of diseased electronics, driven by that pulsating pox-riddled synth.