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from Wind and Wire Sept/Oct 1998
written by Bill Binkelman, editor and publisher


The Apiary

The Foundry (1997)
Time: 73:41

This disc, one of the releases from the new label known as The Foundry, is an inspired work of dark variety. Sometimes ambient in the traditional sense, the music on this CD can also push musical boundaries farther than most musicians even imagine. At times experimental in nature, Descent is different in its approach to tone, structure, melody and composition.

Per the liner notes, this is "music which recalls the world of nature, the fear and the beauty" and this recording can be both melodic and also noir-like dissonant. This juxtaposition is well illustrated on the album opener, "the first darkness" which starts off with some strange percussive effects, a la Jeff Greinke, joined by a wooden flute playing a somber melody line. The synths come in and things get very dark, even spooky. Since this music develops over time, don't judge it early on in any of these songs.

The remainder of the album embodies musical styles from floating mildly dark ambient to synth driven Native American-flavored flute pieces to disturbing post-industrial dark ambient percussive songs. Most of this flows smoothly from cut to cut. the rhythms are a high point on this album as they are well-recorded and varied both in how they are produced and their tempos.

Descent was composed as accompaniment to an "installation" by Charles Browning entitled "What are you afraid of?" With its noir-ish atmospheres, darkly flowing synths, and at times otherworldly percussive effects, the installation sounds pretty spooky to me. DArk ambient fans should consider this release (providing you don't mind some industrial/noise effects tossed into the mix in later cuts). It sure is dark enough (the strange noises and rumbling synths on "dreams of ragnarok and sisyphus" ought to raise some hair on the back of your neck).

The last three songs venture far afield into highly experimental electronic music. This is territory where few ambient musicians journey. The trip is through very alien soundscapes which are atonal and dissonant at times, strangely compelling at others. Not for the faint of heart, Descent is a very aptly named release. Bring a lantern with you - there's not a lot of light down there.