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Boomkat Product Review:
Berlin-based American noise sculptor Angelo Harmsworth augments kaleidoscopic ambience with knife-edge sonic blasts and the visceral intensity of power electronics on his dynamic Students of Decay debut. RIYL Aho Ssan, Earn, Roly Porter, or Jefre Cantu-Ledesma.
Following a run of cassettes on VAKNAR, Opal Tapes, Total Black and enmossed/Psychic Liberation, Harmsworth assembles his most assured set to date for Students of Decay. "Singe" is aptly titled, smartly delineating the album's smoldering textures that burn around the edges without completely turning to cinder. It's music that sounds as if at one point in its development, it was more straightforward; a cautious ear on opening track 'Igniting the Periphery' unveils harmonic progressions and baroque trills that sounds far more ornate than the chattering DSP gurgles and squealing feedback might suggest. Harmsworth is a master of balance, tiptoeing across a sonic landscape that sounds as if it could erupt into cacophony or bliss at any moment.
The faint piano on 'Drip Motion' is dug down so far beneath drilling whirrs and tape-wiped fuzz that you'd be forgiven for assuming it was an audio hallucination. But when Harmsworth allows light to crack through the stifling atmosphere it's like breathing fresh air after a gas leak. He pushes the album's most unforgiving segments - like the torture dungeon clanker 'A Twofold Excess' - to give us the opportunity to experience redemption; each action has its own reaction, and heartbreaking calm inevitably follows retching sheet metal noize. It prepares us for the record's extended two track finale: the humming, dark ambient-informed 'Reversing the Procession' and its comparatively sunny foil 'Scope Neglect', that re-imagines the torched dream pop of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma or even Fennesz. Recommended.