Boomkat Product Review
Lovers of Dark Ambient's shadowy recesses take note: this latest Type release brings the haunted New Mexican soundworld of William Fowler Collins to the world - and it's one of the most relentless collections of dense and harrowing midnight music you'll likely have the pleasure of hearing. Flicking through this record - skimming the surface of these crumbling, derelict sonic constructions - feels like intercepting a shortwave broadcast from the hereafter. It all points towards something sinister and most unwholesome, but to give all this context, it's worth noting that Collins' talent has been incubating for some time: his CV tells of years spent studying electronic music at Mills College under the tutelage of iconic figures like Pauline Oliveiros, Alvin Curran and Fred Frith (having also performed and collaborated with Matmos, Ikue Mori and Brightblack Morning Light in the lead up to this album's making). This musical background combines with the harsh, desert topography of Collins' Albuquerque home in rendering a sonic portrait of Americana's dark underbelly, beginning with 'The Hour Of Red Glare', whose stormy introduction - full of thunderclap noise surges - announces the album's nefarious intentions. Immediately, images of a guitar-slinging, American gothic counterpart to the Nordic doom merchantry of Deathprod and Svarte Greiner spring to mind; its maudlin intensity and dust-devil dynamics serving as a powerful introduction, teetering on the verge of outright black metal - imagine Xasthur wearing a stetson, if you will. 'Grave Robbing In Texas' offers a slightly more introspective slant on that sound, retreating into a quivering mass of tape murk and snarling sustains that's likely to give your ears friction burns if you spend too much time with it. The vast 'Dark Country Road' soon comes along, opening with a lighter, more outward-looking sound, initially howling harmoniusly like some ghouls' choir before retreating into an uncomfortable near-silence around the eight-minute mark. During this stint, static hangs in the air while unidentifiable clanking, scratching and whining from various obscured field recordings creeps under your skin. At over twenty-one minutes this might be the most engrossibg piece of music on the album, but it's arguably the most striking too - luring you away into its uncanny nightscape. There's still plenty more to come, however: you'll hear a more vicious, metallic take on Tim Hecker's saturated drones during 'On Perdition Hill' and even better, 'Slow Motion Prayer Cycle' grinds away like a decrepit old phonograph cylinder worn down to nothing. Finally, you can hear a few strands of sunlight starting to break into the mix during closing track 'The Ghosts Of Eden Trail'; warm, major-key tones shimmer across its expanse before eventually evaporating into the harsh New Mexico wind from whence it came. An immense and fiendish album - ESSENTIAL PURCHASE.