Various – All My Sins Remembered II – The Sonic Worlds Of John Murphy 2CD The Epicuran 2021
By the ‘II’ tag of the title, clearly this is the second tribute release to the late and sorely missed John Murphy. This time around the double album collates material from five projects (i.e. counting Krank and Crank as the same project), where John was the creative driving force, which differs from volume ‘I‘ which mostly featured a wide variety of bands and projects where he was a contributor (reviewed here).
The twenty-minute Krank track NAOS Number 1 leads off the first CD, where despite dating from 2012 is an 80’s sounding ritual industrial soundscape, consisting of grinding synth textures, scattered wavering tones, fragmented sonic oscillations and occasional percussive elements such as bells and singing bowls etc. The composition is quite loosely structured with not real driving rhythm or beat, rather is built around blown out abstract synth chords, with a very analogue tone and associated sonic warmth. Also featured are liquidous sounding ‘micro’ tones and contact mic-ed clanging metal on metal arrhythmia. Whilst there is an element of freeform improvisational playfulness its sound, the track is also carefully controlled and paced to generate its grimly dissonant atmosphere.
Up next are six tracks from The Grimsel Path, which was a project of John Murphy and Jon Evans (both of Last Dominion Lost), noting also that the moniker The Grimsel Path has contextual links back to Last Dominion Lost, with this project name being a track title off their debut album. The six tracks are noted to be live recordings from 2012 when the group performed at the Foetus Frolics Festival in Berlin and inhabits quite a similar tonal sphere to Krank’s preceding track. Nevertheless The Grimsel Path’s tracks differ in that it is slightly more focused due to the format of shorter stand-alone tracks and includes sporadic vocalisations which are wholly absent from Krank’s track. Unhinged clanging electronics, misfiring machinery and general industrial debris mark the opening piece Deviation, whilst Scorched Earth features humming suspenseful horror synths (aka Angelo Badalamenti style), otherworldly vocalisations and a production of cavernous, echoed depths. Run Please Master then ups the ante somewhat with a stilted rhythmic drive and cinematic synths late in the track, whilst Sideshow of the Soul features a low bass throb, over which a mostly subdued but sometimes chaotic scattered industrial noise soundscape is positioned.
Following on is a project called Ophiolatreia (meaning ‘snake worship’) whom I am wholly unfamiliar, with two tracks dating from 1992 featured. Encompassing a ritual industrial/proto dark ambient material, it has an organic sound and analogue tone, complete with chimes and minimalist wailing horn. Rounding out the first disk are two tracks from My Father Of Serpents (dating from 1987 & 1988), which follows a similar primitive ritual industrial/dark ambient approach, yet there a radio voice cut up technique is employed which gives it a deviating edge.
Moving on to the second disc, it features only three tracks. The first two are short tracks from My Father Of Serpents and Ophiolatreia and continue the mood from the first disc, which is followed by a lengthy 63-minute untitled track from Crank. This extended composition dates from 1993 and is a freeform and loosely flowing industrial/ritual ambient soundscape, with the general tone of a muted mineshaft aesthetic. The pace is slow, and the control of its varied sonic elements is unhurried, allowing the mood to draw the listener in while the sonic movement unfurls. Yet from the muted opening segments through the middle of the track it elevates to noise-industrial bluff and bluster, before receding to ritual soundscape spheres one again.
Despite the various monikers featured across this double album there is also a general sonic consistency and tone to the featured post-industrial soundscape to ritual dark ambient material, where the two discs can be let to simply play through without the flow and atmosphere jarring between projects and features material. Without questions this is another wonderful tribute to John and demonstrates the strength of his output during the pivotal developmental phase of the post-industrial underground and across subsequent decades, even if he perhaps did not receive wider recognition for it during his own lifetime. As with all releases on The Epicurean, the packaging and design is exquisite and makes owning the physical artefact a mandatory recommendation.