Artist: Bash Nova
Keywords: Ambient, Drone, Electronic, Horror, Soundscape, Other, Sound Design, Weird
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
I’ve heard of pig iron, but… ape iron? Oh, never mind, this is an actual word taken altogether, referring in cosmology to a sort of primal chaos. That… might give away some of what we’re about to be heading into on this work, from the always-an-awesome-guy we’ve come to know as Bash Nova, among other names. Let’s prepare ourselves… ah, but how does one prepare for primal chaos?
There is only one way I know of…
… it’s time to step into the molecular disintegration machine to have our particles shot into a black hole. Don’t worry, I’ll bring a pair of headphones.
That would have been an interesting trip, but I understand your reluctance. I’ll just talk about the music, then.
‘Opening Doors’ is a very fitting title for an opening track, as we haven’t even begun yet and are clueless as to how this sound experience might go. In a very real sense, then, we are opening a door, unsure of what may be behind it. I’ve got those Pandora’s Box feels. The way it starts makes me even more nervous. I’m hearing bits of static, interference, birds… it sounds as if there’s a lot happening really deep down in there and it’s hard to tell exactly what. Very gradually there is a cavernous drone making itself heard, under which we hear some hushed noises. It fades…
… and we begin ‘Changing Directions To Suit New Paths’. Very quiet at first. Very empty. I become conscious of the sonic environment of the room I’m in, as the people in the apartment above me are vacuuming (wtf, it’s 8:30 PM!) and running water, there’s a woman with a severe case of bronchitis that’s been recurring for several months. Ok, then I begin to hear sound in the actual track! There are some resonant drone tones that could be feedback. The harmonics lure your attention, then perceptibly shift and you begin to notice the overall space of the mix. The reverberation feels more narrow than wide, as if this were taking place in a tunnel, sound tightly concentrated, bouncing off the walls around you… these drones seem to be focused by the surrounding concrete.
‘Bespoke Octadic Circuitry’ is also a slow evolver, beginning with a quietness that is absolutely dense. A hollow wind enters the tunnel (we’re still here). As it grows we begin to hear how multi-faceted it is, how it moves and modulates. It seems to quake or tremble with energy. A sudden gust cracks through, and I believe for a moment that I’ve heard the barest trace of some underlying chord structure, but it wanes into the shadows before I am able to make it out. Thankfully, something of it returns a short time later, only with differences… a static-charged bass-frequency is audible. The span of sound becomes fiercer, suddenly razor sharp. It becomes a lot more like dark ambient drone, but not conscious, kind of like a force of nature wreaking havoc. There is, quite unexpected, a very lovely swell of what might be a chorus of synth strings, filtered and occupying a frequency range that is well suited to the audio-terrain, and then it disappears and the track begins its retreat into silence.
Next is ‘Washing Worn Graves’, a different sound experience from the previous three tracks right away. We hear a buzzy electronic noise amplified and echoing into the soundspace, which still for me feels constricted in some way despite the effects used in the treatment of many of these sounds being, by nature, expansive. A breathy drone comes on, with minimal traces of sound drawn in the space that seems, by now, to be widening, if only slightly. Washes of white noise with grainy feedback are freed, invading my left ear like a horde of demons. The buzz creeps in and out, tries to draw our eargaze while we are spiritually ransacked.
There’s a sort of throat-popping noise at the very beginning of ‘I Thought That They Would Have Gone Out Before I Dropped But Now They Are Here To Stay, I Am Out And Now They Shout, “The Devil Comes This Way!”…’ — kind of a long title with a bit of a clunky rhyming scheme! — followed by some airy drone. Something wicked this way comes? This has the feel of… an atmosphere you would hear in a film while a character, scouting, watches something horrifying happen from a hidden vantage point. And just about as they are about to warn the others in their group or coven or clique, some arm reaches up and grabs their face. Actually, that last part never comes to pass in the audio, it just feels like it could at any moment! It fades for awhile and you believe the track is soon to end, but just as it’s on the threshold of silence, it bounces back, grows loud… and then it fades away…
… the title of the next piece is ‘I Have Found Everything I Once Lost’. It would be kind of neat, if that were to happen to someone! Thick silence permeates the beginning of this track, until eventually a moody bit of drone starts its upward inclination in the mix. I love the sound of this, very much like the naturalistic melodies a person might hear, or imagine hearing, outdoors on a windy day near a highway or busy street. It happens to me, too! I hear sound acoustics kind of shuffling around in a listless cacophony. White noise ascends, alongside a deep, bassy rumbling frequency that’s barely audible. This is probably my favourite piece of music on the whole album. Eventually, a long, tubular wind flute comes in, causing the mix to crackle under the strain! Whoa! This disappears, replaced by sizzling static, like the vaporous wings of several illusory pelicans moving at once, completely synchronized.
Then it’s ‘Safe Behind Shaking Hands On Your Face’. It’s silent, then a blast of heavily reverberating crash waves. It’s like standing on a metalloid beach, a quicksilver ocean, listening to the tide roll in. At times, particularly later on, it almost feels like the sun itself is spilling out into you.
‘Ad Infinitum – Part 1’, is very lengthy! All of the tracks so far have been, but they’ve each felt like they’ve been mini-voyages requiring a bit of length to work their magic. This one starts off with very low sounds, modulating bass frequencies that are nervous, wobbling. Static arrives, challenged with the same shaky, tenuous hold on reality… it feels like either one could snap, break. Oh, and then? Beautiful, beautiful harmonic string synths float into the mix, with a chilling electrical energy. These soon morph into a highly radiative substance exuding a chilling warmth, deadly life-bearing rays. Yes, they possess compellingly contradictory natures, these sounds. Harsh noise frequencies — not loud — come into the mix, fusing with the established arrangements. Then, all drops away to a span of nothingness, a dark cavernous void. Soon, a whistle inoculates a musty auditory hallucination… green waterfalls in a sewer, subway hauntings, a radio receiver picking up EVP static and you can’t turn it off, taking out the batteries does nothing to put an end to the transmissions. Things like that. Silence comes, momentarily, and then washes of white noise re-emerge along with blasts of dust and the indeterminable whispers of a vast tomb.
Finally, we come to the last piece, ‘Venus Apeiron’. It begins, in contrast to the other tracks, with very lovely synthetic harmonies; it’s warm and inviting! Life is a pink blur, and I feel like having tea in the bath. I want to… stare at an image of Mt. Fuji. I can hear birds all around me. I smell damp leaves and morning rain… I also smell artificial cakes. I don’t know why any of this is happening to me, and I can almost guarantee that your experiences of this track will be quite different than mine! Maybe you’ll hear a solitary stroll through empty streets. The rain will still be there, I’m sure, but… maybe not the cakes. Then again, you might hear yourself standing on the Moon! All I can say for sure is that this track is very wondrous! A few touches of darkness, sadness here and there, but returning to a kind of cosmic love and awareness of sensory pleasure. It ends with that other side of the coin, the shadow that always lays at the back of light.
Gotta love Bash Nova! Despite the connotations of primordialism and chaos in the theme of this work, the material throughout feels minimal, orchestrated, very tightly controlled in how it’s presented. Perhaps, what I am to draw from this, is that control is itself chaos? I don’t know if that’s an intended effect. At times the sound is very heavy, fierce, but as soon as the dogs are unleashed they are quick to be reined in again; as a dark ambient album, it feels subdued, the psychology is one of escalating tension and thrilling restraint, which is quite complimentary considering the “natural” way in which so much of this music seems to come together. If that sounds like your bag, you’ll definitely want to follow this link: