The Missing Ensemble: Zeropolis
Low Impedance

As the title suggests, Zeropolis paints a dystopic portrait of ruined metropolises where all traces of humanity have been wiped out by some cataclysmic event. The bleak mood is sustained remarkably throughout the evocative, fifteen-minute opener “Old York” where muffled beats rumble intermittently amidst simmering washes of crackle and billowing clouds of industrial noise, and phantom tones bleed from electrical wires. Here and elsewhere, The Missing Ensemble (Daniel De Los Santos, John Sellekaers, and Mathias Delplanque) sculpts oceanic drones that purposefully suspend time and court disorientation and hallucinations.

Though the longer tracks, “Old York” and “Attaining Pt. 1,” enable the group's aesthetic to be explored most fully, shorter pieces present complete worlds too. “A Long Walk,” for example, guides the listener through a decimated landscape where flickers of noise still resonate, despite the absence of humanity. Interestingly, the group is joined on a number of pieces by trumpeter Ernst Karel and guitarists Lenny Gonzales and Quentin de Hemptinne, even though their instruments undergo radical alteration when embedded within the Ensemble's drones. Having said that, the stuttering bleat of Karel's horn is still recognizable when accompanied by skin-crawling noises in “Attaining Pt. 1,” and de Hemptinne's guitar flickers slip and slide provocatively over an intensifying cloud of haze in “Zero-sum.” One of the most appealing things about Zeropolis is its restraint; much of the material unfolds glacially and is pitched at a subdued level that enhances the aura of desolation.

April 2007