The apocalypse does not always come about with a crash of thunder and torrents of noise. Sometimes, destruction lurks in more quiet corners, creeping onward in a manner that could easily be unseen by an inattentive observer. There are more ways to musically express excess than through the extremities of metal; other-worldly visions do not always manifest solely through volume.
All of which is to say that Tiamat, the latest collaborative work between Sothiac and Paul Jolly, takes a relatively restrained route to expressing its cosmic horror. Based upon themes of Sumerian cosmology and the theory that a planet once existing between Jupiter and Mars (from which the EP gets its name), the destruction of which formed the asteroid belt, Tiamat is a record built upon the more experimental and avant-garde leanings of industrial drone and jazz. Though on the surface it might appear sparse, with the four songs build upon floating woodwind, sparse industrial scrapes, and wordless vocals, there is an oppressive air to Tiamat that makes it both captivating and horrific. It is the sound of claustrophobic vastness, of being trapped within eternity, crushed by your own insignificance in the face of the universe and all that has gone before.
Despite being roughly 20 minutes in length, Tiamat feels much longer and weightier. The differences between the four tracks are slight, meaning the atmosphere is both consistent but also rewarding to attentive listeners. Most important though is its emotional impact. It is a difficult record to listen to, steeped as it is in dread and the eternal darkness of the void. It is incredibly unsettling, even more so than its predecessor Superluna with which it shares many similarities. This is music that provokes anxiety and misery but does so in a way which feels rewarding – to face up to its challenges is somehow cleansing. It may not possess the same kind of sonic excess as most records and bands we cover, but it is no less intense for that.
Tiamat is out now via 33 Jazz Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain