The Subtraction – ‘The One Who Infests Ships’; and Kapustin Yar – ‘Trithemius’ [Review]

Two new releases from the ever-evolving Land of Decay, both debuts which help the spread of LoD’s darkness across the aesthetic field, and the label’s continued pursuit (and attainment) of excellence. Seriously.

R-150-3937801-1354895959-6636‘The One Who Infests Ships’ by The Subtraction is a three-track C40 of vacant, dark ambience with a strong electronic presence. Swallowing all of side A, “Noden’s Breath” is a hulking, menacing demigod of a composition, evoking landslides and epochal changes with deep rumble and cutting frictions. Motoric churning, gusty drones, and telephonic bleats generate most of the palate – think Pulse Emitter in a terrestrial mode, or Luasa Raelon but not so alien. The title track fills most of the second side with this contemptuous mixture like the audiograph of a weather machine, shifting slightly midway to feature a guitar-like volley of high-tension distortion, the thing moves without a narrative arc, bringing life to this sinister entity without any closure or comment. With such pairings as The Subtraction (that is, Jason Soliday and Omar Gonzalez), it’s always a riddle to parse-out such collaborative noise, to figure who’s contributing what, if it’s more than the sum of its parts; or, as in the case of the present, when no two parts are distinguishable, to riddle what such a union will not reveal. On pro-cut cassettes with full-color art.

R-150-3937797-1354895751-8400Kapustin Yar stake one foot in the relentless traditions of black metal – with its vaporous voices, despondent chord progressions, and geeky obsession with esoteric citations – to establish the long-player ‘Trithemius.’ This foot planted, they extend the other to slowcore: jangly guitars, sparse yet articulate beats, and screen passes with broad vistas. This is the difference which makes a difference, such that subsequent moves toward prog-metal and industrial EBM are rerouted in novel ways. The most quotable, “Sea Altar,” features the guitar-pro effects of Tool in a deftly-looping groove; “Dirge” is like a composite psych-rock track made only of the standard deviation – the substantive mean having been gutted from the recording – leaving a whispy, tail-spun bombasmus behind; and the tape’s highlight and only track to surpass 10 minutes, “Collapsing Palace” is a postrock epic dosed on superfuzz and undergirded with concrète mise-en-scene [in case of reissue: please remaster to 10”]. In the finale, the title track is something of a head-slapper – spoiler alert – as the tape’s emergent tribalism is manifest in a crushing poly-rhythm with channel-skipping drones and bleeding feedback, affecting some imagined ceremony. This reconvergence around citations of the un-cited forebearers of contemporary black metalheads is much welcomed as a gesture of honesty and earnestness toward the entire community. On pro-press, ruby red tapes with art by Terence Hannum. Highly recommended.

Land of Decay cassette

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