Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chapels - Last Night of the Earth (Stunned Records CS)
Adam Richards' Chapels project has been getting some heavy play around these parts, but I figured there was no harm in covering another one. Actually, there's yet ANOTHER on its way (a split with Rambutan) but I thought I'd go with this one today seeing as how Stunned just dropped what looks like another monster batch recently. Good way to spread the word I s'pose...
Anyhoo, this particular release finds Richards once more beckoning the grimy underside of his instruments as he works out a nice and languid couple sides here. The tape opens with "Inhale," a brief introduction before continuing with the odd vocal and electronic thud duet of "Inhale." Chapels manages to find some zones here that were left uncovered on So Many Blood-Lakes, concocting some oddly harmonizing hums and billows above a din of shins being slid over asphalt. There's almost an American Tapes aesthetic with this stuff, utterly grimy and bathed in the finest basement acoustic sludge where everything seeps together into some cesspool of fritzing circuits and contact mic'd shudders. An interesting sound, and paced so as to give it some shape as well. Maybe it's just me, but some of this stuff reminds me of some of Chris Riggs' work approach-wise; the sounds are always tough to pin down but the general shape suggests some real control present throughout. The third track, "She Came Bearing Blood Flowers," has the same kind of hollowed out feel. You know that strange hush that happens in Grand Central, sort of this subdued din where all these loud voices below recede into a hushed atmosphere above? Same kind of deal here, with odd sounds being heard through some air-conditioning vent.
The flip side presents a real treat with the side-long "Beggar." Giving the piece enough time to speak its mind, Richards drags you through all sorts of spaces with this, starting out in some barren tundra where the howls of inhabitants past ride beside you. Beneath the washed out static on this stuff there's always some faint underlying tone that seems utterly relatable and nearly within reach, but Richards is bright enough to let that thing make its presence known in the form of a rock solid and dead as nails drone tone for some faltering chopper blades to sway over. Yet the mud always has some life in it, and it keeps the side interesting and moving throughout as he picks and pulls at the concoction tone by tone, creating some chilling tricks on the ear. What sounds like the string part to some 40s Hollywood score when viewed from outside turns out to be an immense spiral of empty repetition. Nice too though that none of this stuff is ever just harsh or just creepy, but really fun to listen to and take part in. Which isn't to say it isn't creepy of course... Another slayer (as usual!) from the Stunned camp, and beautifully packaged along with all of them. You know how they do.