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Kevin Kastning
Andy Vaz's House Warming

17 Pygmies
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Rodolphe Alexis
Marc Barreca
Le Berger
Book of Air
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Council of Nine
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William Hooker Quartet
How To Cure Our Soul
Kevin Kastning
Kastning / Clements
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Kosemura, Shinozaki, Nitta

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Collection 100
Landscapes of Fear

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Matt Barbier
Hesperius Draco
Markus Oehlen
Greg Sawyer

Wordclock: Self Destruction Themes
Cryo Chamber

Pedro Pimentel's second Wordclock album aligns with Cryo Chamber's dark ambient aesthetic but in rather circuitous and unconventional manner: in place of horrific nightscapes, the settings on Self Destruction Themes evoke the aftermath of an attack, those moments when violent acts have ended and survivors reflect with grief and sadness as they gaze upon the devastation. As a result, the music on the release eschews aggression, intensity, and extreme volume for atmospheric material rich in texture and plaintive in tone. In the album's ten pieces, pianos, disembodied voices, ethereal choirs, field recordings, and other sounds regularly bob to the surface of Wordclock's multi-dimensional soundscapes.

Robert C. Kozletsky (Apocryphos) and label-runner Simon Heath (Atrium Carceri, Sabled Sun) guest on separate tracks, but it's classically trained cellist Amund Ulvestad who makes the most substantial contribution. His playing forms a prominent part of the ultra-dense landscapes Pimentel generates such that, even when a piece is its most texturally rich, the cello remains clearly audible, whether it's heard sawing intently in “The Fever of Our Waiting” or supplicating gently over a shimmering, piano-inflected base during “It May Come.”

Representative of the release are “More Often Than Not,” wherein Ulvestad's cello drifts through a thick mass of blurry piano notes and rainswept outdoor sounds, and “Every Shade,” a comparatively sadder meditation that pairs the cello's quietly mournful ululations with an ambient backdrop one could describe as symphonic were it not so hazy. The track on which Ulvestad emotes most powerfully is “Something Else,” a five-minute outpouring of anguish so strong it's impossible to ignore. As mentioned, Self Destruction Themes largely shies away from harrowing extremes of volume and dynamics, but there are exceptions, such as when “The Fever of Our Waiting” and “Lack of Language” build to crescendos in their final moments.

Self Destruction Themes represents a return to dark ambient work for Pimentel, who's recently committed time and energy to working with Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robert Finck on the soundtrack to the survival horror game NOCT. Interestingly, Pimentel only started the Wordclock project in 2014, but this sophomore effort under the name indicates that it's reached an impressive level of sophistication in a very short time.

January 2016