Susurrus: Susurrus
Field Hymns

This self-titled set of full-frontal dronescaping by Susurrus (real name unknown) unfolds in two parts over thirty-one minutes but might be best thought of as a single, uninterrupted journey (the split design might be due to the cassette format, though a download version is available, too). That's because the piece develops organically, originating out of low-level quietude and gradually swelling in intensity.

It takes little time at all for the first part to get loud, as by the four-minute mark the space is filled with cavernous pulsations. Using feedback, loops, and myriad electronic sources as building blocks and recorded in Portland, Oregon directly to four-track cassette, Susurrus synthesizes the source material into a seething, industrial-tinged behemoth of at times blistering intensity. An arc gradually comes into focus as the material's electrical sheets expand into towering formations that are as thick and deadly as molten lava. Thirteen minutes into the first part, a startling hint of humanity appears at the periphery when a voice utters something unintelligible before the organ-like drone re-asserts itself. After a brief pause, the second half begins, in this case with guttural croaks and high-pitched flickerings underlaid by machine whirr before growing abrasive in its focus on sharp-edged slashes, nightmarish in the rise and fall of its diseased fluttering, and eventually harrowing in the alarm sounds that trigger.

I would be remiss in not noting that the dictionary defines susurrus as “to make a soft rustling sound; whisper; murmur”—which makes it an unusual moniker choice, obviously, in that the Susurrus material, on this release at least, is pitched at anything but a murmur.

February 2012