Cristal: Re-Ups

Gore: Mean Man's Dream

FSS follows the June release of Wrnlrd's Oneiromantical War with two very different releases, Cristal's second full-length Re-Ups and a reissue of Gore's classic 1987(!) album Mean Man's Dream (with FSS handling the digital release, Southern Lord the CD and vinyl).

Formed in 2001, Cristal (one-time Labradford member Bobby Donne partnered with Jimmy Anthony and Greg Darden) traffics in a fine-tuned brand of abstract computer-generated music that fluctuates between near-placid, isolationist settings and brutalizing meltdowns. “Rimescolisi” opens the set with multi-layered textural waves of gaseous rattle and hum, after which “Stars, Hide Your Fires” stretches its industrial wings for a languorous nine minutes, allowing it ample time to slowly mutate from a low-level drone into a funnel of percussive speckles and pops, distorted vocal sounds, and rippling static. After “Xicifu” reduces the decibel level even further, Cristal unleashes the fury in “Left of Swept,” a cranium-cleaning blast of searing noise sure to leave blisters on even the most devoted noise fanatic's brain matter. Ending abruptly, “Left of Swept” gives way to the more merciful industrial-drone maneuvers of the ghostly “Avici.” Re-Ups reveals Cristal to be fastidious sculptors of abstract sounds, even when sonic extremes are pushed to their conceivable limits.

Gore's Mean Man's Dream is worlds apart from Re-Ups and not simply because Gore's second album originally appeared in 1987. Guitarist Pieter de Sury, bassist Rob Frey, and drummer Danny Arnold Lommen plow in lockstep formation through ten through-composed instrumentals that fall halfway betwixt contemporary math-rock and Red-era King Crimson. Gore's metallic roar is loud and uncompromising, yes, but the material is anything but unmusical. There's no soloing per se and therefore no excess, just three musicians stoking molten fire with churning riffs and pile-driving rhythms. Hear, for example, the barracuda riffology de Sury gets up to in the grinding sludge-fest “Last Steps” while Lommen bludgeons his kit. The trio's attack turns suitably lethal during “Chainsaw” and a hint of funk even slips into a moment or two of “The Bank.” Gore navigates its stop-start music-making with ease, indicative of how well-oiled the outfit's machine was when the tracks were laid down.

October 2008