Richard A Ingram: Consolamentum
White Box

By day a guitarist operating under the name Gambler in the Manchester-based outfit Oceansize, Richard A. Ingram pursues a rather different vision on his first full-length under his own name, Consolamentum, which has considerably more in common with the dark ambient explorations of Deaf Centre and any number of Miasmah artists than anything conventionally rock-related. To begin with, the album's six instrumentals are closer in spirit to moody soundscapes rather than standard verse-chorus constructions. And while the album and track titles may reference the Cathars, a religious sect active during the Middle Ages in France, the material itself has little or no connection to such subject matter, even if connections might be suggested by the music's oft-brooding and sombre character.

Less violent than its title suggests, “Kll Thm ll...” surreptitiously creeps into position with cryptic graveyard and insectoid noises before a slow unfurl of looped guitars and eerie screeches is smothered by a cloud of hiss. That the track ends with the vaporous texture only indicates how integral texture is to Consolamentum's sound. If anything, the subsequent piece, “De Montfort,” is even more atmospheric than the opener, with Ingram blanketing insistent flurries of acoustic piano with layers of blurry rustlings, stormy rumble, and clanking noises. All of the elements congeal into a hallucinatory mass of nightmarish noise, with only the repeating piano figure ensuring that some semblance of clearheadedness remains. The thirteen-minute “Béziers” begins with rumbling noises panning between left and right channels but quickly expands into a ringing mass of fractured guitar stabs and processed sounds, the track's creaking and scraping components constantly mutating as the piece unfolds. A glitchy intro to “The Melioramentum” is first ambushed by a smattering of electric guitar and then supplanted by peaceful acoustic guitar picking that's more conspicuous for offering one of the album's rare natural-sounding episodes; of course, the moment doesn't last long, as Ingram overlays the guitar work with industrial rumble and hazy storm clouds. At disc's end, “...Gd Wll Rcgnz Hs wn” plunges the listener even deeper into the abyss when streams of distorted piano and guitars meld into an unsettling drone of horn-like tones that's eventually swallowed by a billowing field of tape hiss.

If there's one word to describe Consolamentum, it would have to be haunted. Don't get the wrong idea: it's not the bleakest recording ever issued, but it's hardly uplifting either—presumably the effect Ingram intended.

June 2010