Ah, the present. Seems pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? We’d rather be anywhere but now, so it’s no wonder that dark ambient artists worldwide are having a field day. KØVVNS is our guide into hell this time, and on The Awe of Our Erosion we’re not disappointed – a single 23-minute track that thoroughly lives up to the self-proclaimed title of “harsh acid ritual drone”. The work doesn’t have a beat per se, but instead it throbs, using volume and texture to dictate the rhythm instead of worrying about trivia like including a recognisable melody.
The palette on display is none too sublime either – an uncomfortable mix of thrumming, juddering percussion, howling shrieks and the occasional raw, gurgling black metal howl (or featured dog Poe’s bark). The effect is startlingly reminiscent of a bad trip – there’s a sense of space and distance in the percussion and ‘lead’ lines, but the ever-present bass feels like a rising tide underneath, encroaching ever more on your fragile, tormented headspace. But the pulse of the work keeps the listener locked in; we become willing participants in our own descent.
What keeps the work more interesting than mere sound art is its rise-and-fall structure, linking the industrial clanking of the first section into the ominous bass emanations of the second with surprising grace, and then onwards to an increasingly tense and mechanistic end (with a smattering of droning vocals on the way). There’s a careful line trod between electronic squawking, the grind of metal on metal and the unearthly gnashing that would like you to believe it’s a vocal track, with this synthesis delivering a travail by turns hypnotic and painfully, worryingly bleak. The release is available on KØVVNS’ Bandcamp alongside six others, including several live releases. If you have a longing for rituals you could never have participated in because they happened 2500 years ago, but also need something to blot out the banality of your commute, look no further.
The Awe Of Our Erosion is available now and can be purchased here.
Words: David Burke