Angel: Terra Null (CD, Editions Mego, June 2014)

I’m not normally comfortable with people describing music as “difficult”. If I find a record difficult, doesn’t that say as much about me and my experiences as it does about the music? So I’m going to stick with saying this: I doubt many people would classify Terra Null as easy listening; I certainly don’t. However, it is also a wonderful thing if you just give yourself over to it. Angel are Ilpo Vaisanen, off of Pan Sonic, and Dirk Dresselhaus, off of Schneider™, and they are ably assisted by saxophonist and clarinetist Lucio Capece and cellist and chanter Hildur Guðnadóttir (who is a massive favourite round these parts). The album starts off with some random-sounding plucking and twanging noises from something like a guitar and a fiddle, later joined by something that sounds not unlike a hurdy-gurdy, all creating an effect not unlike a folk band attempting to tune up while under the influence of dissociative hallucinogens. Slowly, a buzzing noise creeps in: a big part of Vaisenen and Dresselhaus’s work is playing what seem to be tone generators being fed through, at most, some basic LFOs and the like. Inevitably, perhaps, the moment it starts to cohere for me is when Guðnadóttir’s cello comes into the mix. By the end of the first (twenty-six-minute) track, we’ve been transported to somewhere completely different, and we could maybe be listening to the closing bars of some grand romantic symphony, frozen in time as we get sucked into the vortex of a black hole, our rusty old spaceship getting slowly torn apart around us. Or something like that. Then we’re through the wormhole for two tracks of floating in an alien galaxy in our humming hulk with only sinister wordless choral crescendos for company (Guðnadóttir again, inevitably recalling the trippy Ligeti bit at the end of 2001 only way darker). The quiet but unstoppable destructive power is back for the final track, before the signal is lost in a haze of static. In case you haven’t worked it out yet, I really really like this record.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Dark Ambient / Drone / Metal.

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