Last Dominion Lost – Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden LP The Epicurean 2015
There is little room to avoid the fact that the release of this record in late October, 2015 was overshadowed by the untimely passing of core project member John Murphy on 11 October, 2015. Yet conversely the album now functions as a fitting tribute to John, as an ardent underground figure who never abandoned his personal drive for musical expression within industrial and experimental musical spheres. Whilst this album is technically not a new studio recording (it is the result of a live recording from 2011), you would never guess this from the sound alone, as there production is clean and clear and there is no background crowd noise (…perhaps being removed from the mix when undergoing mastering by luminary James Plotkin). The fact that the live set also consisted of exclusive and up until now unreleased material, further sets it apart from a ‘typical’ live recording.
When contemplating the diversity and refinement of material found on the ‘Towers of Silence’ LP from 2014 (reviewed here), the music on ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ (name borrowed from the title of an Aleister Crowley book), has a more direct and consistent approach, which is slightly rougher and looser in execution (…thereby reflecting the live nature of the recording). Thus across the 8 tracks (…40 minute approx. play time), there is definite singularity to its style and sound, which is evidenced through the use of weird tonal vocal treatments, where spoken/ chanted vocals (or vocal samples?) and mangled into a garbled and schizophrenic ‘hearing voices’ type style. It also broadly contains that particular disorientating and ‘wonky’ 1980’s industrial sound which Last Dominion Lost have made their own. Swirling miasma of dissociative and disorienting electronics, metallic derived clatter, industrial/ ritual/ martial percussion and the aforementioned vocals intermingle into an (abstract) industrial sonic soup. Cascading avalanche of loose militant to ritualized percussive and metallic textures also feature alongside twisting and morphing analog electronics. Very much with its basis in a classic industrial frame of reference, there is also clear nods to ritual aesthetics with the wailing ritual horns and driving percussion.
Although I initially assumed ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ might be Last Dominion Lost’s swansong release, this is not the case. Evidently the other core project member Jon Evans and Julian Percy have now been joined by earlier guest collaborator Till Brüggemann and have decided to forge ahead, where work on the new album has commenced. Given that John’s sonic contributions hold a very strong influence over Last Dominion Lost’s sound (and in particular with reference to his twisted analog electronics and distinctive percussive style), it will be intriguing to hear what the new album with his absence will bring. But for now, ‘Snowdrops from a Curate’s Garden’ stands as a fitting celebration of John Murphy’s dedication to the industrial underground.