Dominion of Flesh: 5 Years of Cloister Recordings: Festival Report 2019

Full and detailed show report with photos can be located here.

Megaptera – A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art

Megaptera – A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art  LP/CD Cloister Recordings 2019

In the early to mid-1990’s Mepaptera were a leader and mainstay of the early Swedish death industrial sound. In noting that the last proper album The Curse of the Scarecrow dates from 1998, focus on the project has been maintained over the following years based on sporadic live performances, as well as a slew of releases including: live albums, reissues, compilation collections and remixes. But A Horse In The Eye Is Part Of The Art is a welcomed release as it features new music from project mainstay Peter Nyström, indicated to have been recorded between 2012-2018.

Lobotomy leads off in classic Megaptera fashion with pulsing bass tones, shuddering factory ambiences, scrapping metallics, rupturing fissures of sound and medical lecture samples which all laboriously unfurl over a ten-minute span. Bipolar (Type 1&2) follows and displays another side to the Megaptera oeuvre, with a semi-stilted ritual drums, wavering horns and dank echoed factory ambience, again slowly unravelling over ten minutes, where additional beat programming, grinding distortion and junk metal crunch are added for good measure. Side B leads off with a remix of Second Recovery by Stephen Petrus, being a slow maelstrom of mid to lower ranged swirling/grinding layers. Further blended with various rolling programmed beats, treated vocals/samples it generates an overall grim result. Final of the four tracks is Walking Death, and spans a 14 minute run-time. Scrabbling conveyor belt metallic textures and rumbling windswept ambience features heavily, while fractured voices can also be detected but are semi-buried in the mix. From the midpoint of the track stilted metal clanging elements provides further structure and forward movement, with a gradual elevation of urgency through to its conclusion.

For good measure a bonus CD is included along with the vinyl LP, and features a live recording from The Epicurean Escapism Festival 2014. Previously issued as a digital only release, it spans a play-time of 41 minutes and features classic cuts such as The Final Day, Don’t Desecrate The Dead and The Curse Of The Scarecrow. With a foggy and distant depth to the recording and detectable crowd chatter, this is definitely not a direct soundboard recording. But equally this only adds to the murkiness and general dank death industrial atmosphere.

From what I understand, this may be the final swansong album from Megaptera. While this is a shame, equally this album was not perhaps not even expected given the length of time since the release of the last proper album. If it is indeed the final album, is at least a fitting epitaph for the project, where the industrial decay illustrated on the cover is a suitable visual representation.

Graustich – See You When You Get There

Graustich – See You When You Get There MC Cloister Recordings 2019

After 2018’s excellent Morality Ends album (reviewed here), Graustich return with a single instrumental track, issued on a home dubbed, single-sided cassette.

Clocking in at over 15 minutes, the approach follows the sound of the earlier album, which is an exercise in sustained industrial-noise, and in essence could have been lifted from the same recording session. Over its duration the multilayered deep shuddering distortion and bass addled textures give the impression of idling of factory machinery, with the overall sonics treated to have a raw and roughly blown out sound. Grim, crushing and laborious in tone and atmosphere, the noise-industrial atmospheres grind forwards incessantly, where total submission is the only effective choice (although in the later sections the oscillating tones increase in urgency, thus providing some variation).

A simple j-card design rounds out the presentation, while the project name has been carved into the tape with a blade, which when combined with the oppressive sonics all amounts to a solid underground obscurity.

Moral Order – Krypteia

Moral Order – Krypteia 2xMC Cloister Recordings 2019

Moral Order are a quite new heavy electronics/death industrial project, helmed by Spaniard Fernando O. Paíno. Having issued three releases since 2018, this is the third album, and while issued on limited double tape the less limited CD version has been issued on Malignant Records.

In a general sense there is a real old school tonal sensitivity to this album without it sounding purposefully or cynically ‘retro’. Likewise, the tone and mood is grey- to black-hued, which comes from what sounds like purely analogue sound sources, with an air of elevating menace. Across the 10 tracks there is a tonally raw simplicity at play, based around loosely rhythmic industrial loops, throbbing bass, fried mid-toned frequencies, and apathetic spoken vocals – as showcased on early track Murder Weapon. At times perhaps there is some parallel to be drawn here to the harsher end of the Galakthorrö roster, with This Is The Life You Must Live having a stilted swagger comparable to early Haus Arafna. Other tracks, such as the lengthy Day of the Dead, mine a death ambient mood of drawn-out drones and minimalist yet tensile atmospheres. Album closer Anonymous Carrion sees Moral Order make their best approximation of an early Brighter Death Now, death industrial sound – and it is certainly a convincing end result.

Perhaps not an album to convince or sway new listeners to a roughly hewn, loosely rhythmic industrial/heavy electronics sound, Krypteia is rather an underground gem to please long-term converts. Packaging wise, the double tape case is housed in an oversized cardboard box, which is evidently a homage to the packaging of the 1989 collaborative double tape Östenbräun by Death In June and Les Joyaux De La Princesse. Being limited to a mere 100 copies and already sold out, the CD version on Malignant Records would be the way to go.

 

Serration – Deconfliction / In The Shadow Of Tyranny

Serration – Deconfliction MC New Forces 2019

Serration – In The Shadow Of Tyranny MC Cloister Recordings 2019

Serration, a duo from the States, are an exponent of a modern, militant framed, heavy electronics sound. With their first release issued in 2017, already six releases have been issued, with these two cassettes being their latest items.

Like the earlier tape I have heard, Deconfliction bristles with controlled tension, where tensile loops, throbbing bass, and distortion/echo-treated vocals are the order of the day. The five tracks total around 20 minutes of material, meaning each is relatively short at around four minutes. Usually a pattern is established early on based around droning synth loops, augmented with additional layered sonic elements and completed with treated vocals (some of which are clearly manipulated media samples).

The mood and tone of In The Shadow Of Tyranny is quite similar to Deconfliction although it is slightly different in two key ways. In the first instance the four tracks are on the longer side at six to 12 minutes each, while in the second the tension on selected tracks has been elevated a couple of notches. A great example of this is Weakness In Remorse where the driven loops and urgency of the vocals provide an added edge. The title of the following track Into Annihilation provides a quick synopsis of the elevated tone of this track, where the explosive bass-driven synths and seething vocals drive the track forward.

Overall there is an overt mood of tension across both tapes, rather than actual sonic violence, and while relatively straightforward, the mood and atmosphere is strong and confident. Both tapes are short and sharp and of clear quality, reinforcing the impression that Serration are a project to keep a keen eye on.

Michael Idehall – Four Prophecies

Michael Idehall – Four Prophecies 4xMC Cloister Recordings 2018

Micahel Idehall is a name I have been familiar with for a number of years, but for whatever reason never got around to checking any of his material until now. But in then being introduced to his music via this release, I have been advised that this is VERY different to his usual output, which I understand may be more rhythmic based and song focused. As for Four Prophecies, it very much an exercise in endurance as the four tapes contain a long-form 45-minute composition on each side, thereby totally a whopping six hours of music. As an overarching descriptor, this can be bracketed under minimalist and industrial tinged dark ambience, where the eight tracks are massively sprawling as may be expected from the format.

Given the sheer elongated run-time, there is a certain process of shifting your mindset when approach this, and very much seeking to slow the chatter and internal dialogue of your mind so as to better succumb to the slow evolutionary flow on display. Each piece effectively inhabits is own sound palette and minimalist stylistic slant and slowly unfurls over its duration. Sonically the industrial-ambient soundscapes are darkly hued, structured around layering of muted atonal drones and grey echoed sound washes, and while being predominantly instrumental, whispered vocals, and distant chants do make sporadic appearances. Select tracks have a more pronounced rhythmic undercurrents, including low bass throbs, stilted ritualized percussion and other mechanical textures (clicking sounds, distant machine idling etc).  There is also a notable darker abstracted ritual atmosphere throughout a number of compositions, which for the sake of comparison reminds of the late era minimalism of Archon Satani.

Given the long-form run time it is perhaps an overly obvious statement that it encompasses a meditative quality. But given the catatonic evolution of each piece, once your mind is drawn in it quickly generates an impression that there is no beginning and no end – but only the ever present now – where the mind slowly floats along in the ever-flowing sonic stream. Packaging wise does the set suitable justice with four pro-printed tapes and j-cards housed in an oversized pro-printed cardboard slider box. Clearly not a release for those with a short attention span, but a rewarding one for those with patience and willingness on focus on the minuscule sonic details and gradual tonal shifts.