High aura'd: Mooncusser

Mooncusser is a bruising, half-hour colossus helmed by a single pilot, Boston-based soundsculptor John Kolodij, who uses guitar and effects to build his High aura'd material into massive ambient-drone slabs. The new release appears on Yldemir, a year-old cassette-oriented label specializing in free improv, noise, and drone artists, and follows the 2010 releases Third Life (Reverb Worship) and Bridge Cable Suite (self-released) plus a split disc with André Foisy on Stunned Records. Each Mooncusser side features fifteen minutes of crushing, guitar-generated dronescaping, with all of it drenched in rain-like hiss and moving with the unstoppable force of a massive cloud formation.

For its opening three minutes, side one gradually swells into a molten swarm of grime and corrosion until a sheet-metal blast pierces the haze and splinters the collective sound into skin-lacerating shards. Kolodij expertly controls the sound so that a careful balance is achieved, resulting in a sonic mass that asserts itself forcefully without being abrasive or ear-piercing. In fact, ten minutes into side one, a sense of peacefulness emerges as the material quietens, clearing a path for a scalpel-sharp roar to come rolling in first, followed by waves crashing ashore and tolling bells. Side B picks up where the first leaves off with a widescreen ebb'n'flow of seething howl that roars for five minutes until, startlingly, a delicate acoustic guitar briefly appears to give the meditation a pastoral aura before a rippling mass comes crushing in to obliterate it in seconds. Once again, though, Kolodij shows himself to be a deft hand indeed at manning the controls and shaping the gargantuan sound mass into musical form. Mastered by John Twells, the set's a fine collection of blistering, axe-generated meditations that should be heard at top volume so that the full measure of its awesome force can be experienced.

November 2011