Noise often has the ability to produce crushing blows to perceptions of reality, to paint facades over the world through sonic destruction of thought and feeling. Or, perhaps, to lift the painted veil from an existence plagued with bogus pleasantries and gross deceits to fool the masses into believing life to be good. A new split from powerhouses Kjostad and Ligature simultaneously removes self from world and world from self as it delights and disconcerts and scatters notions of gratification to the floor like a dropped bag of marbles.
The record, entitled Overgrown (released in December on New Forces), begins with Kjostad’s offering, “Kabetogama,” a 16+ minute excursion that stands childlike wonder next to adult anxiety. field recordings of running water and growing static uproot you from your standing ground and gently sets your on a boat down some mythical river towards and ancient ruin, Mayan or Aztec or something wholly other. Glowing tones creep in like phantoms of consciousness and gleam hymnal shells of melody as harsh static slashes out like a downed and disconnected power cable dangerously fluttering beside a puddle. Sounds of bells precipitously falling, clanging, crashing from the heights of their towers, shake the ground around you. The ground gives way to the distant sound of birds chirping amidst the steady pacing of a death march drum, the wall of ensuing static representative of your end. Curious, childish hitting sounds are buried in crushing noise, the upheaval of the unnatural world. It’s a complete erasure of modernity, of “civilized” life, and a return to primal beginnings, and the subsequent conflict of preference for one over the other. As the birds’ chirping returns and coasts in and out of incoherent static rain, Kjostad leaves you floating in between beauty and nothing.
Ligature’s three tracks are equally, profoundly bleak. Anxieties are prodded at, awoken, tightened and then obliterated through a blistering compound of field recordings, tape manipulations, synthesizer, spoken word, and homemade instrumentation. “Observance” opens with nightmarish loops of this incessant creaking and tapping, reminiscent of the rope-bound lowering of a pinewood box into a winter-hardened ground. Sonic blackness gives way to a rather dubious calm, the bionic composition of synthesizer and recorded sounds. All the while, the hum of the surrounding world, the kind of small-sound-in-a-big-room effect, encases the solitude within, scratching at the door, increasingly desperate for human contact. Peace decays.
But peace can coexist with anxiety, can’t it? The ensuing tack, “Floodlight,” suggests so. At least at first. A separate melodic reconciliation is haunted by splintered aggravations of field recordings, like last rights committed to a troubled soul. External rest for internal unrest. The theme subsides and the doomed buzz of synthesizer drone consumes all and underlines the subsequent spoken-word machinations of an unstable mind, teetering on the edge of the end. The monotone voice, ominously hinting towards oblivion. “The nocturnal animal, forever unknowing. The easy target, the only answer.” The tension is ever-growing, looping and sudden clangs first hinting that something bad is imminent. The feedback back intensifies as the voice iterates, all too coolly, “The sudden flash, the last procrastination. I let you do this to me.” And then we get oblivion. All cognizance, everything recognizably human is razed, completely, in the violent and unforgiving release of reverberating static, to nothing. The closing track, “Cessation,” acts as a requiem for the death of self experienced on the previous track. It’s confused and dark and sad. Piano sounds creep through crackling tape loops from the other side of life, like the last remaining brain cells of the dead being able to register its own hymn. And then, similar to Kjostad’s departure, nothing.