Zilverhill: Latent-Active-Descent

Latent-Active-Descent is the sophomore CD release by Zilverhill, the collaborative and long-standing project of Schuster (Perth) & pRESENT dAY bUNA (Sheffield). Some rather mystifying notes accompany the release—we're told that the three-part recording is informed by the “outsider” art of August Natterer (1868–1933) (specifically Axle of the World, with Rabbit and Uncertainty of Good Fortune) and Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There—but making sense of such detail isn't necessary to appreciate the recording. An hour-long, picturesque travelogue of desolate and disturbed gloomscapes filled with disembodied voices, droning strings, and electronics, Latent-Active-Descent suggests that Zilverhill's twisted dark ambient might best be filed alongside the recordings of Coil and Twine.

There's a suggestion that Richard Nixon's voice plays a part in the pieces but, if so, it's never identifiable as such when the voice samples are so severely manipulated. In addition to the tracks' mangled voices, one encounters no shortage of bird chirps, tribal drumming, muffled noise drones, howling winds, and shuddering strings. “Unceasing” is like a funeral procession through a crow-infested graveyard at midnight, with the groaning spectres out in full force. The screech and clatter of trains mixed with the bluster of industrial emissions dominates “Birdtrain,” while “To Autumn” takes a six-minute plunge into an industrial crypt. Though animated by an upbeat rhythm, “The Eternal Day Is Done” still finds its choir of animal noises first darkened by whooshes and rumbles, and then obliterated by the violent screech of an electric guitar. One is reminded in particular of Twine in the tracks that incorporate radio transmissions, with one, “Sixteen Provinces,” a torrential blur of thumb piano plinks and radio conversations, and the other, “No Body No Murder,” a twilight drone overlaid by crime scene transmissions.

August 2009