A Death Cinematic: A Parable on the Aporia of Vengeance and the Beauty of Impenetrable Sadness
A Death Cinematic

Offsetting the exponentially-increasing domination of the digital download are producers who remain ever more resolutely committed to the physical presentation of their music. A Death Cinematic is one example of a seemingly-growing number, as his double-disc release A Parable on the Aporia of Vengeance and the Beauty of Impenetrable Sadness is as much about packaging as musical content; consequently, no experience of it would be complete without equal attention being given to both presentation and sound. It's an exemplar of the DIY aesthetic, with every one of its self-released 250 copies painstakingly assembled by hand in the attic of the artist's house. On the presentation side, the fine art graduate packages the discs within a chipboard arigato pack that displays heat-transferred images outside and a hand-printed lino block print inside. Housing the discs is a hand-built gatefold made out of two black envelopes (the song titles hand-stamped) and—yes, really—western red cedar veneer.

The music itself—about ninety minutes worth, all of it recorded in spring of 2008 onto cassette four-track—is wholly electric guitar-generated with A Death Cinematic using an amp, effects, and layering to elaborate upon the raw material. The artist is by his own admission untrained and largely self-taught, and approaches the music's creation as he would a sculpture or painting: with improvisation and layering. The eleven pieces are sunburned meditations whose corroded sounds suggest incinerated landscapes and whose titles—“A Short Story on the Theme of a Broken Dream” a representative example—can't help but invite comparison to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. One might expect that generating all sounds from the single instrument would prove limiting but not so: the guitar's sonic potential gets a thorough workout and, though the mood is uniformly gloomy by design, the album sustains interest via subtle shifts in style and execution from one stabbing and oozing piece to the next. Axes snarl and shudder as they undertake a slow, fifteen-minute crawl through “The Grasses Will Grow Tall Over Our Cities” while “The Sun Glints Through the Dust Risen From their Hooves” and “When I Leave I Wish to Kill the Sun” include no shortage of metallic riffage, bleeding slabs, and delicate picking. The second CD (“Part 2”) features the scarred howl of “Knives at My Brain in the Discordance of Sleep” while squalling guitars snake a path through peaceful terrain during “Onward (as the Vultures Take the Sky) We Slip Into the Apocalypse.” The penultimate “...And all the Leaves Trembled (With the Dawn Sirens)” offers perhaps as perfect an encapsulation of the release's sound as might be found before “Brilliance of the First Morning Snow” ends the work with some rare moments of near-tranquility. All praise to A Death Cinematic for dedicating his talents so fully to the project's realization.

March 2009