Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Midday Veil “Subterranean Ritual II” & Fungal Abyss “Bardo Abgrund Temple” (Translinguistic Other Recordings)

Here are a couple of newish releases from TranslinguisticOther Recordings, a relatively fresh Seattle-based imprint started by Midday Veil members Emily Pothast and David Golightly. In terms of packaging and overall presentation, these folks don’t cut any corners: sleek professionally printed j-cards, digital download cards, editions of 250, and even color-printed promotional one-sheets. This may not sound earth shattering by any means, but it’s also not what you typically encounter within cassette culture. The music contained on both of these releases sounds pretty impressive as well.    

The “improvised sound rituals” featured on Midday Veil’s “Subterranean Ritual II” shimmer and sway in a slow motion psychedelic breeze. With droning analog synth, reverberant baritone guitar, and gentle tom strokes leading the way, Emily Pothast’s treated wordless vocals fill in the spaces between, creating a spectral ambience that recedes and crests to the group’s own highly attuned sense of time and (s)pace. Even at the most outright rockist moments (the end of “Moon Temple”), the sound is more ‘ceremonial’ than ‘space’ rock. But you can call it whatever you want, group catharsis seems to be the main objective here.

Fungal Abyss, an alter ego of the bizzaro metal outfit Lesbian, operate along similar long form improvisational lines. This quartet, however, plays within a more classic psychedelic rock set-up: guitars, bass, drums. That’s not to say that “Bardo Abgrund Temple” sounds dated or re-hashed in any way, quite the contrary in fact. At roughly 70 minutes in length, Fungal Abyss head out on a truely psychedelic journey. I say that both because it was noted that the group recorded these improvisations under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms (as if the group name didn’t tip us off to their interests) and because the music itself moves in and out of various passages, from peaceful, droning drift to epic, gurgling guitar shred, pushing towards something grand and unknown. This is first-rate modern psych rock by a group that knows how to walk the walk. 

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