Northumbria and Famine: Blood Orchid
Cathedral Transmissions

On Blood Orchid, Toronto/Northumberland-based ambient metal duo Northumbria (Jim Field and Dorian Williamson) join forces with fellow Canadian and dark ambient alchemist Famine (audio professional Marty Famine, currently based in Winnipeg). Who's exactly playing what on the sixteen-minute dronescape, which the UK-based Cathedral Transmissions label has issued as a three-inch CDR in a fifty-copy run, isn't clarified, though Northumbria's previous releases have centered on amplified guitar and bass playing. It takes less than a minute for Blood Orchid to establish its own haunted soundworld, after which the material works its way steadily through several related episodes. Shards of guitar pierce a disease-plagued fog, while deathly percussive pounds signal the imminent arrival of some terrifying presence. As the smoldering mass groans in seeming agony, Blood Orchid plays as if a portal to some horrific supernatural realm has been opened, thereby allowing all manner of cancer to spread. Oppressive, suffocating, and claustrophobic, the disc's infected material makes the average dark ambient recording sound like easy listening by comparison.

November 2014