Of Earth and Sun – Uncoiled CD Malignant Records 2015
Of Earth and Sun are a new signing to the Malignant roster; being the solo project of American based Matthew Hunzeker. ‘Uncoiled’ represents the second album from the project following the 2013 self-released and self-titled digital album.
With reference to the visuals which adorn the cover, it immediately provides an impression of a ritualized focus and spiritually tinged approach. Then when further considering the album’s nine compositions which mostly exceed the 7 minute mark, it is rather telling of sprawling scope and form of the music. As such heavily throbbing drones underpins the majority of proceedings, with the sound seemingly being built on series of extended, slow morphing loops. Likewise a heavily ritualistic vibe is imbedded within all the compositions, where rolling percussion, thumping tribal drums and heavily treated chanted vocalisations are fed into the mix, which then become another blended and elongated sonic element. A wailing atonal ritual horn (bone trumpet perhaps?) is also a prominent featured within a number of compositions, again being processed and stretched within the drone framework.
Although certainly constituting ‘ritual’ music in temperament, Of Earth and Sun’s sound clearly differs from the more organic ritual dark ambient music which is being produced by (for comparative sake) the Aural Hypnox label collective, given the sound here appears to be the result of an analog modular synth setup.* So although ‘Uncoiled’ has ritualised approach, musically speaking it is far too driving and forceful to be coined as ‘dark ambient’, rather could be better described as ‘ritualised heavy electronics’, or perhaps ‘ritualised industrial drone’. The heavy driving drone approach also brings to mind elements of Abre Ojos or Theologian, yet the centrally imbedded ritualised aesthetic does set Of Earth and Sun apart.
Rather intriguingly the album liner notes indicate that the tracks were recorded live in a single take and with no overdubs, which functions to highlight the skill and control displayed in the execution of ‘Uncoiled’ given the pacing is deliberate and controlled, maintaining a constant morphing momentum throughout. Although there general ‘sameness’ to the sound and approach across its 70 minute span, its sonic force and focus provides an all-encompassing and enveloping meditative quality. Therefore if monolithic ritual drone invocations sounds intriguing, Of Earth and Sun nail such an approach effortlessly.
* – Following the publication of the review Matthew got in touch to clarify that no electronics besides effects pedals are used; meaning there are no synths used at all. Evidently the loops are based on voice and bone trumpets which are treated live with effects, noting also an oscillator was only used on two tracks. So as such the whole album is predominantly based on bone horns, voice (bass/sub bass and ritualized chanting) and a drum machine.