(drummer Robert Allen and bassist Skye Klein, also the brain behind Terminal Sound System)
resurrected the ghosts of early Swans and Godflesh on
Guattari (Relapse, 2001):
sedate cyclopean drumming
industrial-grade bass lines regurgitating lava-like feedback
that combined to create a disorienting sense of absence.
Body Of Light (Relapse, 2003) was a less intimidating experience.
Halo's bassist Skye Klein had been active as
Terminal Sound System since the late 1990s,
Solaris (Embryo, 1999)
RH-8SB (Release Entertainment, 2002)
Last Night I Dreamed Of Armageddon (Hive, 2004).
Terminal Sound System
interpreted drum'n'bass as a canvas to paint disorienting soundscapes.
Compressor (Extreme, 2007) collects eight exercises in creating
all-instrumental ambience out of chaotic metallic and wooden tinkling.
Gridlike adds sequencer and warped drones to the beats.
Black Note is even more amoebic in the way it blends reverbs and
electronic noises and snippets of found sounds with slow-motion beats.
722 toys with discontinuity, as the beats are anemic, limping
and occasionally disappear altogether, while barely-audible vibrations
populate the ether. Sudden explosions of rhythm bring further instability to
the fragile lattice.
Mi Clatter has hardly beats at all.
Jazz overtones surface in Ghost Summer, with the muted dissonant
electronics playing the atmospheric role of Miles Davis' trumpet over
a placid rainstorm of drumming.
The seven-minute Decompensating further refines this concept, turning
the electronic languor into distant evocative voices.
It is impressive how much Klein can achieve within the limitations of his
style (he mainly uses rhythms, and a bit of electronics), but one wonders
how much more he could achieve if he introduced more instruments or more
Constructing Towers (Extreme, 2008) displays more aggression and more
variety. In Your Planet erupts with an interesting seemless combination
of the space-rock crescendoes of Hawkwind,
the prog-rock interplay of King Crimson,
the fibrillating raga-rock of early Pink Floyd, and the booming atmospheres
Klein's experiments with drum'n'bass are brought to fruition in the
expressionist nightmare of Constructing Towers, where a relentless
rhythm punctuates floating dissonances and whispered vocals.
The even more disorienting Year of the Pig sounds like the sound of asteroids colliding in space set to frantic drumming and funk guitar.
The intensity evokes the industrial violence of Nine Inch Nails, although the means are completely different.
The eight-minute Alaska grants a relatively mellow pause although
wrapped in pummeling rhythm. A (sung) melody soars above the dark thick
sludge, although it is immediately swallowed in a black hole of astronaut-like
voices and metal-like bass drones that eventually turns into a
delicate cosmic shuffle.
The album dramatically shifts gear with Wolves, a sleepy and jazzy
trumpet wail swimming deconstructed into a rhythm-less psychedelic vibrato
before the half-hearted majestic finale.
Sunshine is another hallucinated jazzy intermezzo, and this time smooth
Klein toys with evanescent rhythmic figures in Firefly Butoh.
Then pens the ominous jazz vignette Duchamp Falls, perfect for a
movie soundtrack of the Sixties.
The last salvo, Zodiac, closes the album with a soaring distortion,
an electronic imitation of shoegazing guitar with raindrops of piano over
The contrast between the first three pieces and the rest of the album is
striking. It almost feels like two different collections. What unites the
two parts is the impeccable production and the elegant fluidity.
The album is another exercise in sculpting ambient-industrial music over a bed
of thundering beats while scouring the landscapes of dubstep, drum'n'bass and
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