Takiaya Reed and Sylvie Nehill have been making music together as Divide And Dissolve since at least 2017, but it’s their signing to Geoff Barrow’s Invada Records that enables Takiaya and Sylvie’s anti-colonial doom to decolonise the most minds. They pitch this album, Gas Lit, as a sonic weapon to “undermine and destroy” white supremacist power structures that have violently stolen “Water and Earth” from global indigenous, black and brown peoples. The very existence of this album and its very name signals a war cry to fans of metal and other heavy music that themselves have been infested by white supremacists and nazis. Music and sound, along with water and earth, have been appropriated by people who would wish us dead. Takiaya and Sylvie want us to experience this album as a revelation, to fight alongside them in taking back what is ours.
Gas Lit’s eight tracks move at a geological pace, until Takiaya’s haunting saxophone pierces through the mantle and crust like an eruption of sadness, a reminder that our time on earth is short but can be sweet, if we make the most of it and if we fight for what belongs to us. The way guitar and saxophone intertwine is extremely evocative, riffs descend like the flow of a river carving their claim to the earth while details are found in the little eddies and streams, the way a riff changes imperceptibly unless you pay attention. The style of doom compared to others is irrelevant; what is more important is what the guitar and drums do. They remind us of the materiality of sound and therein its relation to the earth and our bodies. Our relation to music is not one wholly of listening and thought, rather it is one that we possess in its ability to affect us. In metal’s case, to embody our anger and turn it outwards.
The primitive musicianship of white supremacist metal acts attempts to de-emphasise our own experience and deny our relation to self so that we fall victim to the disillusion and dysphoria inherent in that style. Takiaya and Sylvie hope to heighten our awareness of self and its environments, the guitar tone of sludge and doom metal becomes the earth while the saxophone acts as memory and emotion. Rather than becoming numb under its heaviness, Gas Lit evokes the feeling of bitter wind and rain against the skin, or the pain in remembering a childhood forest now turned carpark. White supremacy forces people to erase their pasts and in doing so their claim to existence. In their music Takiaya and Sylvie urge us to remember grief at the destruction of entire peoples and environments, alongside the joy found in lost memories. In this simple act of existence and remembrance they deny the global fascist-colonial machine its ability to wield sound and body against itself.
Gas Lit is out on 29th February via Invada Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Joe-Julian Naitsri