WILT – ‘Nocturnal Requiem’
WILT is James Keeler’s main project since the late 90s, and
Wisconsin’s best kept secret as far as I’m concerned. The feeling of rural desolation just oozes from these tracks, which maintain or expand on an industrial infused dark ambient sound nicely. There is a sense of brooding, but nothing beyond the residue of anything like a dirge exists. Masterful reverb, factory engines in the distance. Crumbling layers of synth loops being thrown off of a cliff, metallic swamp clang, utter dread and resignation. Keeler’s particular take on imaginary horror soundtracks comes off like he’s able to walk into an abandoned mental hospital and put all of the essence into a jar without any unnecessary bells and whistles…. or accoutrements of any kind. For those who notice the difference, this work stands alone. There are definitely a lot of vintage synths somewhere in here, but “80s synth soundtrack” would be too lazy of a tag to place. Lots of little elements comprise a sound where no particular texture is too prominent. It’s hard to tell what is a synth and what is processed field recordings of strange insects. The whole album though, could easily fit into those moments of epiphany in a horror movie, where the group of naive and sex-crazed teen day campers/life guards, in their tent in the middle of the night, realize by lantern light that they’re trapped with something much stronger than them, and it’s something they can’t know or see, much less escape from… Moments before the axe comes down. It’s hard to explain. There is an unspoken complexity in this artist’s body of work. With Keeler’s own “Institute for Organic Conversations” label, he’s worked with subject matter expanding upon Buckminster Fuller and Lovecraftian ideas, while others are still rehashing the same emotionally stunted, serial killer bullshit.
Illusion of Safety – ‘Surrender’
Illusion of Safety (1983-2014), just passing its 30th year since inception, is often regarded as the innovator of “ambient industrial”. Despite having traversed nearly every arena of the experimental milieu, performed prestigious fests all over the world, and collaborated with some of widest ranging and heaviest hitting of the avante garde, core member/founder Daniel Burke has both shown a return to form and a veritable bouquet of new frontiers in his most recent outing, “Surrender”. In just under 60 minutes, the listener is taken on a dizzying carousel ride where everything but the kitchen sink is employed to weave a deeply personal (abstract, wordless) narrative that comes off as minimalistic, condensed, and bombastic. But at the same time, it is a constantly shifting, complex and ornate grid iron amalgam of genuine enthusiasm and horror. Recommended if you like a complete disregard for the myopic trappings and short sighted formulae of contemporary sound art today. This may be the final release of Illusion of Safety material.