Schuster: Breaking Down Into His Own Oblivion

Tim Bayes, who's been involved in music-making since the early-‘80s (IBF [Ideas Beyond Filth]) and currently partners with pRESENT dAY bUNA in the Zilverhill project, brings his own brand of dark ambiance to the soundscaping drone genre in Breaking Down Into His Own Oblivion. In Bayes' own words, the recording's “a reflection on life, decay, murder, [and] death, a hospice for like-minded souls. The all-seeing ear, it is made to be that way, a momentary glimpse of us and we are gone…” A sense of collapse and disintegration shadows the material, and the recording's disturbed tone is more than roundly conveyed by track titles like “I Am Living In My Own Corpse” and “Your House Is Marked.”

The recording, which features five pieces, four in the ten-minute range and one twice that length, begins with “BD's Lament,” an industrial drone of vaporous design that quietly seethes and exhales, suggestive of agitated spectres traversing the nightscape from on high; adding to the disturbed ambiance, 'Sara' can be heard softly murmuring text by D.H. Lawrence midway through the eleven-minute track. The recording's deepest plunge occurs in the second piece, “I Am Living In My Own Corpse,” where Bayes augments a twenty-one-minute stream of blurry rumble with distant animal chatter and the anguished cries of tortured souls, resulting in a totality that feels like a whirlpool's undertow dragging sinners downwards. Intoning like faint train whistles, slivers of light eventually emerge, suggesting that at least some of the damned have managed to extricate themselves from the vortex. A regulated downtempo funk rhythm gives “Your House Is Marked” a propulsion downplayed elsewhere, while a gradual accumulation of mangled voices, distorted guitars, and human wails gives the piece an overtly nightmarish cast. Generating the impression of a ritualistic death ceremony, repeated gong strikes reverberate throughout the dirge-like “Manasarovar,” after which “Burdened” brings the recording to a haunted finish. There's considerable dirt and grime under the closer's fingernails, and the track takes an even more disturbing turn when a woman's voiceover amounts to a murder confession. Though such harrowing content might suggest an equivalent treatment in musical terms, Breaking Down Into His Own Oblivion turns out to be relatively restrained in the presentation of its concept. If anything, Bayes brings a light touch to material that others might have treated with a heavier hand.

March 2010