Genre: Experimental / Drone / Noise
4 untitled tracks
From the noise-fertile soil of Portland, Oregon, comes this release of focused
and intense sound sculpting recorded this past winter. Daniel Menche has been
releasing his music since 1994 and has become especially active in the last three
years with a slew of recordings in various formats. His brand of extreme physical
music stands firmly on its own somewhere between noise and concrete musics.
Although it's subtitled "organ and trumpet destruction," this fact is not always
obvious but a nice bit of information at any rate.
Deep low frequencies gradually modulate upward for the first minute of the eleven
minute opener. While this sweep continues, other aspects of the sound spectrum
are filled in by more static elements not unlike some far-off radio
transmissions. As the piece gains in momentum and volume, it is tastefully
punctuated by throbbing bass that is frequently characterized by beats (the
acoustic kind not the rhythmic variety) that cause the room to hum and swirl
sympathetically. The last minute or so is dominated by some upper-mids in the
form of some alien skull drilling that ends just as it threatens to get tedious.
The second track plays out like a twenty-two minute showcase of Menche's penchant
for subtly shifting and timbrally varied sonic textures. A consonant enough organ
chord is accompanied by some celestial crackle only to be usurped by a slow
machine-like rhythmic figure before dissipating back into drone territory. Here
the first blatant trumpet sounds emerge. The pitch warbles like some uneven
vibrato from the lips and lungs of a player trying to circular breathe. When the
rhythm returns, it's only for a moment and as if warped in the space-time
continuum. The longest section is like an amplitude-modulated LFO allowed to do
its thing over the course of several minutes. The movement between consonance and
dissonance, and of ease and unrest, gives this piece an exceptional sense of
drama. It's not only a great work of layered processed sound, but displays a
great sense of composition as well. There's even a coda, or a recapitulation if
you will, for those of you who are so structurally minded.
Next we get a pulse-dominated track that is not anything new, but a nice example
of cumulative stasis at any rate. Even as the pulse starts to dissolve its
presence is always felt untila ll we are left with is the buzzing and swirling of
metallic insects. Deconstructive additive synthesis ? The concluding
eighteen-minute piece is something of a subdued synopsis of the preceeding works.
It flutters and throbs like what one might imagine the aural equivalent of the
power grid during a lightning storm. When the distinct timbre of the organ
resurfaces it sounds like it's been submerged underwater. Despite the overall
push and pull throughout the disk, it actually concludes rather consonantly.
Although Menche's music is undeniably physical, I find a cerebral element at work
here as well, or maybe that's only in the mind of the beholder. I'm generally
turned off by the term "destruction" used to describe music or a compositional
process. I prefer to think of it as more of a reconstruction of the organ and
trumpet, as if the instruments' idiosyncracies have been put under a microscope
and re-presented to the listener as heard by the artist. "Bleeding Heavens" has
an impeccable sense of cohesion and stands out from a lot of Menche's
contemporaries. The Georgia-based Blossoming Noise label deserves your attention
as well, as they're accumulating an impressive roster of experimental music from
all over the world. While I'm at, hats off to Stereophonic Mastering, who mixed
and mastered this disk "in the analog domain," for making a digital reproduction
sound so damn good.