Land of Decay conjures noise with Gates, Thisquietarmy, Cultus Sabbati cassettes

Cultus Sabbati … we think

It’s been one of those weeks. Quite busy. No rest at all. The more you get done, the more it seems you have left to do. I’m physically and mentally exhausted right now, but that’s also a good thing because it means some real, tangible work has been completed. And a lot remains to be finished.

When I have a week like that, I need to hear something that both soothes and stimulates me. I don’t normally turn to testosterone-driven music or black metal or something vicious, because it’s almost too much. I need my brain coated in something adorned in creativity that lets me open my mind, focus, and handle the work in front of me. It can’t be distracting. I’m already racing, and that just makes me panic. But something that works alongside of me, that’s the elixir.

So it was a nice week to get a slew of releases from Land of Decay, a label that is awash with music that can help you escape, chill out, lose your mind, or handle your business. Their most notable band Locrian (who recently signed with Relapse, and whose members own Land of Talk) is one I often turn to when I’m facing a heap of work and want music that’ll keep me motivated and excited but not ready to take off someone’s head with a chainsaw. Another band of that ilk is Toronto’s Nadja, whose dreamy transmissions would sound right at home on Land of Decay. The three releases Land of Decay have ready for you, all in cassette form, can be labeled ambient and drone, but all approach that unique style in a completely different way.

I’ll start off with my favorite of this trio of albums, that being “The Hagiography of Baba Yaga” by the mysterious shadow creatures that are Cultus Sabbati. Like bands such as FALSE and Bosse-de-Nage we talked about last week, this band prefers not to tip their hands, show their faces, and utter a word about themselves. They claim influence such as dark forests, empty spaces, decaying churches and more of that type of thing, and hearing their music, it’s impossible to doubt these things. In fact, it often sounds like the band creates their dark emissions in those spots.

The six-track album is dark and nightmarish, with simmering growls lurking beneath the surface like a growling ghoul in the woods, noise and feedback storms, static drums, and completely hellish fog. The second side of the cassette is a bit more spacey and wooshing, but it’s no less scary and effective. The whole thing feels like some sort of séance or mass a regular human could not comprehend or recreate, and I found most of the music quite unsettling. That’s all a positive for me, because every time this music took a terrifying turn, it kept me on edge and alert, as I knew I couldn’t let my guard down. I’ve enjoyed all of this group’s work, and I’d put up these witching tales along with anything else they’ve done (that you can download from their site, listed below).

For more on the band, go here: http://cultussabbati.org/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.landofdecay.bigcartel.com/product/lod-0-cultus-sabbai

I mentioned Nadja before, and that band’s Aidan Baker has collaborated with Eric Quach, the Montreal-based musician who comprises Thisquietarmy. Under this moniker, Quach has released a pretty hefty collection of music (his site has a really comprehensive list of what he’s done), and his Land of Decay release is a four-track helping called “Phantom Limbs” that is probably the easiest to digest of these three new releases. But that doesn’t mean what Quach does here isn’t intense and totally noteworthy, and much of what TQA accomplishes seems to originate in the cosmos.

The other thing that ties this effort together are the song titles. “Phantom Eye,” “Phantom Brain,” “Phantom Voltage,” “Phantom Pain” not only sound really poetic when spoken in list form, but they also acts as a pretty cool little story that spits fuzz and hisses noise throughout its duration. The guitar often stabs and pokes at you, pockets of melody arise and eventually fade into the ether, things go off-hinge and the music sounds like it’s thinning into nothingness, like on the closing moments of “Brain,” and the whole thing ends with a claustrophobic sense of being strapped into an alien spaceship for a land you do not know and probably do not hope to visit. It’s a really neat listen, and it helped that my first experience with this effort was during morning fog, when nature itself seemed quite disoriented. I haven’t heard much of TQA before “Phantom Limbs,” so it’s time for me to dig deeper into that expansive, impressive back catalog.

For more on the band, go here: http://www.thisquietarmy.com/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.landofdecay.bigcartel.com/product/lod-0-thisquietarmy

I love a nice avalanche of uncompromising madness, which is why I identify with and often enthusiastically embrace bands as thorny and bizarre as WOLD. Some people furiously hate them, and I get why, but I can lie down and relax listening to them. I think they help what’s going on in my head find places to live. I felt the same way when taking on “Eintram” from Gates. This thing aims to suffocate you, and the force over you is so heavy and impossible to conquer that you have no choice but to submit to the darkness. You might be wondering how music I described in this manner can help me do my work. It makes sense to me. Trust me. I sort of look at it like no matter what I have in front of me, it cannot be more immersive and drowning as what Gates unleash.

The three-track album is the loudest of the three. Yeah, Cultus Sabbati are heavy, too, but they’re scarier and more inclined to burn you alive, while Gates are satisfied collapsing your chest with immense power. The swirling of drone and guitar-based fire completely ignite into a volcanic eruption on opener “Glimpse of Overlapping Dimensions,” clobbering your senses and dumping a truck full of angry bees and cement  on your face. “Forest Passageway” bristles at first, but with an eerie calm, before some melodic black metal-style clashing takes center stage, and a chewed-up razor goes overtop to mar any beauty. Closer “Birds Plunging Through the Wall of the Ocean” kind of sounds exactly like that. You probably have to achieve a dream state to see such a thing, but they do their best bringing that syrupy noise vision to life. This is a killer collection that’ll do a fair amount of damage to both your hearing and your psyche. As for me, it’s too late for both. So I forge ahead with my work.

For more on the band, go here: http://gatesritual.bandcamp.com/

To get the album, go here: http://www.landofdecay.bigcartel.com/product/lod-0-gates

To get a package with all three at a discount, go here: http://www.landofdecay.bigcartel.com/product/june-2012-releases-cultus-sabbati-gates-this-quietarmy-cs

For more on the label, go here: http://lndofdecay.blogspot.com/

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