Altar of Flies – Signaler

Altar of Flies – Signaler CD Chondritic Sounds 2021

Altar of Flies is the long-running project of Swede Mattias Gustafsson, where I am personally more aware of the project by name and reputation than being familiar with the bulk of his rather imposing back catalogue. But of the handful of albums I have obtained, the general approach slots into a particular style of Swedish tape and electronics experimentation: meaning it is infused with a darker sonic hue than typical experimental fare. This new album was recorded in 2020 and spans five tracks in just over 40 minutes.

From the opening moments, a vein of darkly Nordic sounds abound, and where dour and deep rumbling textures blend with a variety of ‘concrète’ sonics which sporadically interject and duly falls away. The overarching tone then spans both bright and muffled sonics, while the creaking metallics and detailed tonal bluster provides for focused listening. Likewise, in rapidly shifting from forceful peaks of metallic tones to subtle and minimalist troughs, this functions to strongly accentuate the calmer moments. Various raw field recording elements also seem to feature, such as a steel tank being dragged over concrete to name just one, while other sonics elements then give the vague impression of arcing electricity, as well as the sound of archaic misfiring machinery in their death throes (as mechanical fluid leaks in random spurts onto the factory floor).

In a general atmospheric sense one track blends into the next, and most importantly it maintains focused interest over its run time. This is achieved by generating many fleeting mind’s eye visions, which could be creatively described as: being the depth of winter traipsing through an abandoned and derelict factory complex, where drifting snow is being blown in through the shattered windowpanes by the winter storm blustering outside. A four-panel digipack adored with bleakly abstracted imagery rounds out the physical presentation.

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