Ars Sonor – The Second Circle (None)

Ars Sonor - The Second Circle

After you… 🙂 It’s the album art for The Second Circle, by Ars Sonor. It could be that this series of creepy stairs would lead someplace horrible, but couldn’t it just as likely take you to a giant underground bouncy castle, or the world’s largest ice-cream cone? I think so.

Artist: Ars Sonor
Title: The Second Circle
Label: Sigil Of Brass
Cat#: None
Keywords: Experimental
Reviewer: Alex Spalding

I’m back! Back in front of a computer that is, taking a much needed refuge from the sweltering heat and humidity to review a fantastic album by Ars Sonor. This one, titled ‘The Second Circle’, is kind of like a showcase for the artist’s work with several other talents of the underground. Every track features work from other artists combined with vocals, guitar, synths and samples by Laetitia Schteinberg, aka Ars Sonor. I’m excited to delve in, as it’s been several days since my last Ars Sonor review!

The first track here is titled ‘Asomhl’ and features Nicolas Grenier… I hear a panning, modulated string sample sequence, and over this there are higher octave strings, heavy blasts of percussion, followed by a pounding, throbbing industrial / IDM rhythm. There are vocals screaming through line distortion into my ear that remind me almost of Hanin Elias! This was one of the tracks I first heard from this album many days ago, which excited me… and now I am all the more excited to get a chance to listen to even more of this material! The mix of noise and drums escalate, then everything drops into a space of darkness, with plucky synth sequences, ambient textures. Then, a percussive *stomp* as a digital wash of bass comes on… this is followed by sustained spans of electric guitar. Toms are being slammed along with a sparse techno conga pulse, some sizzling noise, then it all fades.

Featuring Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt, the next track is titled ‘Thbeati’. Within a dark ambient soundscape I hear several reverse drum sounds sucking up the void. These evolve into a very intense, multi-layered and abstract rhythm, very infectious and mental! This track is mind blowing. There’s a throbbing, mechanical house groove that unfolds, sonically disturbing retches of industrial noise and dark ambiance showing through the gaps, panning back & forth. It seems to attack the brain from all angles. Toward the end, as the rhythms have gone, the darkness seems to shimmer, glistening with ache.

‘Sweshes’ features Naked City Cinema, and begins with a depth-charged dark ambient atmosphere. Birds seem to call to us, echoing out from places unseen. There are deep bubbling liquids, bright pads and the sound of an awakening daylight. Into this a rhythm slowly emerges, expansive and experimental utilizing strange mechanical noises, the noises of industry. Lovely strings come into the mix, and I think I’m hearing very slight touches of spoken word as well, out of focus in the mix and layered into the background.

Next is ‘Kahmng’ which features the always excellent Bird Paradigma. In this track I am getting an almost shoegaze vibe, with deep, ambient guitars playing underneath fog and a downpour of rain. It’s alarmingly beautiful, reminding me a lot of Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd’s soundtrack for Gregg Araki’s film Mysterious Skin.

Then it’s ‘Hedfuq’ with King Wynter. Heavy, thick industrial rhythmic protoplasm, loving the asymmetrical groove of this thing! Underneath, lots of equally heavy dark ambient textures. Gets very tribal. This is one of those things that make you want to lean back and absorb the sonic adventure, traverse the mental span of worlds created by the artists. The end takes us into a dense, despairing soundscape, very nice!

‘Kogdaa’ features Anastasia Vronski. Here, a bouncing, springy reverb drum hits off while dreamy sustained tones float by. There’s a nice, experimental electro groove that develops, some thrushes of pitched wind that belt out from the eternal beyond, bits of oddball tuned percussion. This one’s very awesome, effectively creating much with what seems like very little, and the production is expansive and professional sounding. I think, toward the end, that I have heard some sitar! It’s not often enough that that happens!

This next track features an artist by the name of Mutate (often I wonder… why didn’t I think of that!?) and is titled ‘Remosce’. This one really brings the intense, distorted industrial sounds to the fore, reverb-intensive and very dense. I feel like I’m on a factory assembly line being pummeled by plastic and steel. The pads underlying the rhythms are like a ghostly aura.

Afterward comes ‘Lbdreame’, featuring Peetura Luttenbacher. It has a very pretty ambient feel, combined with harsh feedback drones. Waves seem to roll by, or maybe what I’m hearing is the passing traffic of a desolate street. Either way, this is a nice piece of music! Electric piano tones are held in midair against the turbulence, and I feel like I am standing alone in an empty city at sunrise.

The final piece is ‘Tscercal’, which features Elizabeth Veldon. I hear dark echoes permeating the mix, some of them sounding like electric hums and throbs, others like liquid, some like voices. Downbeat electro sounds fall into the mix for a moment, highly abstract. The space of the track is enormous, like a cavern. The electro percussion is mostly dry, adding to the spacial disorientation I’m experiencing. A deep bass click punches in with a delayed and quickly decaying reverberation. Then, these rapid fire bass tones throb into the aural field just before the track ends with what sound like a chorus of dark horns. A great end to a fantastic album!

I will confide in you reader… I enjoyed this work immensely! I’d like nothing better than to leave you a link to where you can hear it yourself, but it seems I must have dropped it someplace. I’d be willing to wager it fell all the way to the bottom of this post where I’ll never be able to reach it, but maybe you could click on it using your cursor?

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