Cristal: Homegoing
Hand-Held Recordings

As is the case with any genre, the dedicated drone listener gradually develops the ability to differentiate between material of lesser and higher quality. Cristal's Homegoing definitely falls into the latter category, though it might be unfair to Richmond, Virginia trio Jimmy Anthony, Gregg Darden, and Bobby Donne to affix such a label to the release, even if its contents at times call acts such as Deathprod and Deaf Center to mind. Regardless, it's powerful and oft-beautiful stuff (especially when the contributions of cellist Taylor Burton are factored in), whether one chooses to label it dronescaping, dark ambient, or simply soundscaping. textura actually reviewed the version of the release Flingcosound issued in 2010 (see the review here) but which Hand-Held Recordings has now released on CD for the first time with two unreleased bonus tracks (one a Pan American remix) added to the original forty-minute release.

Burton's presence is immediately felt when the cello's groans convulse amidst smoke-filled haze in the opening dreamscape “Yoke” (listed on the inner sleeve as “Yolk”), the instrument's haunted sound at moments simulating a whale's cry. The blurry dronescape “Streaming Wisdom” somehow manages to catapult the listener into deep space in less than three minutes. Harrowing and relentless, the curdling electrical force-field “Mirror” seethes like some terrifying nightmare brought to life, its mass so huge it threatens to swallow the listener whole. One could be forgiven, then, for hearing the subsequent piece, “Herrevad,” as a welcome relief from the intensity of “Mirror,” while the titular dreamscape, a mournful and relatively soothing piece, likewise allows one's nerves to settle. The intensity quickly escalates again, however, with the advent of the industrial storm-cloud “Dead Bird,” which hovers threateningly for eleven nightmarish minutes.

In terms of the newly added material, “12:12” perpetuates the frightening ambiance of the recording in general, as does Pan American's remix of “Preiure,” which admittedly ends up sounding indistinguishable from the album's other material, Pan American's involvement notwithstanding. With those eight minutes added, the recording sounds as strong as it did three years ago and at times makes one feel as if one's getting sucked into a Black Hole.

October 2013