A Death Cinematic: The New World
Simple Box Construction

A Death Cinematic's latest in-house project, The New World, is presented as being two releases in one, specifically one that includes the CD component—fifty minutes of slow-burning guitar meditations—and the photo booklet, Prelude to the New World—twenty-two photographs of outdoors industrial and natural scenes. In truth, the project (available in a limited edition of 150 hand-numbered copies) is three releases in one, as the packaging—a hand-made, balsa wood box and a cover consisting of paper, Western red cedar veneer, and balsa wood, to be precise—makes a significant impact, too. Within the box is the photo booklet plus a CD sleeve that displays the track titles on one side and the text for “The New World” on the other. The New World certainly makes a powerful case for the difference in impression a strong physical presentation can make on the listener.

On the musical front, The New World presents six slow-moving, fuzz-toned drones that A Death Cinematic (real name withheld) recorded in real-time using guitar, amp, and effects pedals, all of them instrumental except for the closing title piece, which includes text composed and read by Matt Finney. The material is generally scabrous in tone, with cleanly enunciated central lines often smothered in rough-hewn textures, and largely improvised, though some small degree of post-performance clean-up has been done using computer. That A Death Cinematic cites Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Isis, and Earth as artists he likes and includes as influences such things as two-lane highways, solitude, and “death as the road to awe [and] the act of creation” should convey a clear idea of the melancholic sensibility at work. Track titles like “Sparrows Circle the Distance From the Gallows to the Sun” and “Our Sorrows Pile Up in the Night's Lament” likewise leave little doubt of the mindset involved.

The release can be recommended on musical grounds alone, as the material, though laden with gloom (Finney's “the future is just waiting to break you” text is suitably bleak, too), casts a potent spell on the listener, and the guitarist avoids repetition by getting maximum value from the effects and treatments used. While melodic elements lend some pieces structure, a piece such as “As the Lights Fissure the Night Skies, Our Eyes Grow Pale at the Horrors Beheld,” for instance, roils with immolating volcanic force. As a player, he's no virtuoso; however, virtuosity isn't the goal but instead the establishing of mood, and in that sound-sculpting regard the project clearly succeeds. Add the visual component to the musical, and you've pretty much got a must-have item on your hands.

March 2012