Monday, June 1, 2020
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Artist: S S S S
Title: Just Dead Stars For Dead Eyes
Format: 12" vinyl + Download
Label: Hallow Ground
Though described as the product of found sound from a two-week residency in a performing arts centre, this is not ambiences and room tones. Certainly those ingredients are somewhere in the mix, but the whole soundscape is so drowned in dark synthetic bass noise that any sense of the centre’s original atmosphere is long, long gone. An actor, also based in the centre, has been recorded talking, possibly rehearsing, and his crushed and unintelligible voice is a constant presence, but again any sense of meaning or purpose is gone.

After a relentless opening, the first part calms down, relatively speaking, with the bass notes settling to a steady electronic throb and some awkward-sounding percussive hits and stretches echoing around on top. If this were real-life ambience, the sense of impending threat would be palpable.

The second part has a similar structure, opening with a sonic affront that’s higher pitched and more gaseous before thinning out into a broader hum, with the surprise and brief inclusion of a rather sci-fi three-note repeating glass-like melody. The sustained notes of suspense are littered with glitchy and backwards vocal snippets and formless percussive noises. There’s a cameo in the final minutes from the real unprocessed ambience underneath soft choral notes, as part of an almost anachronistically harmonious resolution.

This is a well-planned, thick gloopy wave of noises and details that reinvents whatever space it was originally recorded in into something wholly unrecognisable, and at times unwelcoming. Ambience twisted, with attitude.