Last Dominion Lost – Abomination of Desolation LP The Epicurean/La Esencia 2017
The sound of Last Dominion Lost has always been rooted in an early primitive industrial expression, and particularly within the archetype established by SPK on their first two albums. Yet it must also be said that Last Dominion Lost have never sounded purposefully regressive; rather their sound is reflective both of the age and creative lineage of its members (which itself in part links back to SPK). It is also unavoidable to observe that the death of key member John Murphy in 2015 looms over this album, particularly as it features his contributions made before his untimely passing. Yet even in the face of John’s death, the remaining members of Jon Evans and Julian Percy have regrouped and forged ahead, being joined by the former sessional member Till Bruggeman now as a full-time member.
While the previous album hinted at influences from early SPK, this album builds upon that influence within their own sound to deliver what is their most well realized album to date. In its broadest sense, these tracks are shorn of any feeling of being a predetermined ‘song’ format, instead they are showcased as disorientating ‘movements’ which follow their own patterns and internalized logic and elevate atmospherics over any display of overt aggression. As such, sporadic garbled whispers, yells and cries from the asylum mix with treated radio voices, shattering glass, atonal rhythmic elements (generated from a multitude of atypical percussive sources), pulsing/sweeping/brooding synth lines, abstract guitars/bass and generally perplexing tones/sounds. These elements then intermingle in the best way possible by never feeling unduly chaotic, unplanned or improvised; rather the material feels to be the result of the meticulous composition of non-musical elements to create wonky and disorienting industrial soundscapes. This is not a long album by any measure given it features 10 tracks over 40 minutes, but with the tracks being generally in the order of four minutes each, they bleed one into the next as part of a greater whole and from this perspective it is of far less importance to highlight individual tracks. Although, to speak of an individual element, John’s distinctive wailing vocalizations scattered throughout the album are a welcome reminder of his involvement and legacy. Sound-wise the production is clean, loud and tonally separated, which in the listening provides a painstaking level of detailing across its deeper bass-addled elements and upfront micro-tonal textures.
With the sheer glut of post-industrial albums being issued over the years, thankfully albums like this come along to clearly establish how things should be done, which is then based on the degree of professionalism applied to the writing, recording and production and which is further reflected in the graphic design and presentation of the sleeve. On all fronts, this is a clear highlight of 2017.