AFRICAN GHOST VALLEY “Ercamescz” C20 (Oreille Gardée)

As harsh as African Ghost Valley’s shredded electronic tones are, there’s a strange gentleness that infiltrates at points, hinting at melody, offering flashes of vulnerability in the midst of the dense, angst-laden song cycle. Yes, one of the tracks is called “Breathing Mud,” and that’s exactly the sense of what listening to “Ercamescz” really feels like, at least from an aural perspective: it’s the audio equivalent of breathing mud. Which you can’t do or else you’ll die. So … there’s a bit of tension here in AGV’s work.

(Oddly enough, “Breathing Mud” kind of sounds like smashing up a hotel room.)

Shouldn’t be a surprise. African Ghost Valley has dropped several excellent releases over the past few years, and “Ercamescz” is no exception. A “mini album,” this mad little tape positively sizzles with anxiety, acting as a portal to your woolliest fears, chilly and frightening and a quick tip of the mental scales away from full-on madness. But there’s still those moments of clarity, of glistening hope amid the darkest passages. There aren’t many of them, but they’re there. They probably get swallowed up completely in the end though.