AMN Reviews: Lustmord & Karin Park – ALTER (2021; Pelagic Records)

Lustmord (Brian Williams) is the origin of much of the modern drone and dark ambient genres. While his work over the last 40 years has been groundbreaking, he is mainly known for rather sparse, low-frequency soundscapes. Karin Park, on the other hand, is a vocalist who is grounded in experimental pop. Putting the two together is the merger of a yin and yang of sorts – Park fills out the upper registers with ethereal vocals and keyboards. The result, however, does not stray far from Lustmord’s oeuvre.

There are cinematic qualities to the eight tracks of ALTER, which is not surprising given Lustmord’s film work. One could easily imagine these pieces being used in a soundtrack to a horror, science fiction, or dark psychological movie. But Park’s chants also invoke the sacred, though more in a pagan or ritualistic sense than what one would expect to hear coming from a cathedral.

Case in point, The Void Between begins with quiet rumbling and Park’s wordless vocals subdued in the background. The rumbling builds as strange sounds wend their way into the mix along with drones and heavy breaths. Further vocals from Park are layered in, singing over a chant. Lustmord provides subtle pulses and tectonic resonances.

This album is far from being happy or uplifting. But there is a sense of joy and wonder to be found, as Lustmord and Park explore the subterranean depths and fissures of both the natural world and human emotion. Their efforts come highly recommended to anyone ready to make such a journey.

ALTER will be released June 25 on Pelagic Records.