Beyond the Ghost – Eternal Drift (2020; Cryo Chamber)
France’s Beyond the Ghost produces a broad spectrum of sounds, including deep drones, lighter synth washes, some mildly discordant ambiance, and piano-based pieces. Throughout these, cello contributions come and go and wordless vocals emerge from time to time. There is a distinct cinematic / soundtrack quality to Eternal Drift that results in it being more easily listenable than some examples of this loose genre. However, it is still impactful and full of ideas and trepidation. Most pieces are beatless, but others exhibit sequenced rhythms or synthesized percussion. This album covers a lot of ground, all of which is tightly composed and performed.
Colossloth – Plague Alone (2020; Cold Spring Records)
The title of this latest effort from UK-based Colossloth suggests that it was recorded during the current era of social isolation. But the recording was made and it was prophetically named in the summer of 2019. Plague Alone has more than its share of sharp edges and aggressive discordance, with grinding waves and walls of sound over electroacoustic elements. Electronics, feedback, backward masking, and sculpted white noise are put into effect as well. But instead of being a sequence of random noises, Plague Alone is a logical progression that tells a compelling and appealing story. A harsh story to be sure, but one worth hearing. This is a very strong release and a suitable follow-up to 2017’s Heathen Needles.
Caustic Reverie – The Flooded Assembly (2020; Bandcamp)
In line with the discussion of our current pandemic, Florida’s Bryn Schurman took advantage of time at home to record his 24th album, this one under the moniker of Caustic Reverie. The Flooded Assembly is a haunting and ominous offering, with stark drones, quiet passages, organ-like synth, and slowly evolving sounds. The textures are airy but dark, with Schurman carefully using space to set moods. This approach could be considered minimal, but is also well thought out. The Flooded Assembly serves to recognize the anxiety within all of us at this time of crisis. While it does not necessarily soothe, it can be used as a channel for releasing or districting one’s self from such feelings.