We start with Never Presence Forever, who offer us up two tracks lasting 15 minutes in total.
The first song, Unwell, is the longest of the two. This track is a 10 minute ambient/drone track that acts as a study in tension and mood-building, without really achieving release within its playing time. Instead, that release partially comes from the second song on here, 12205. The two tracks are quite different, yet complement each other well due to this.
Unwell is a brooding mood-piece where not much happens, but it doesn’t need to as the subtle changes in the sounds contribute to an overall feeling of rising malevolence and unease. A little after the middle of the track things start to get a bit rougher and more ominous, almost as a prelude to the relative severity of 12205.
After a brief interlude of silence, 12205 begins. In contrast to most of the previous track, this one starts off with some harsh sounds and builds from that. Gradually unfurling into more chaotic and unsettling waters as the track progresses, partially-hidden voices shout out indecipherable words amid the static and general noise-making.
I’m not a huge fan of noise or experimental music such as this, so although this won’t regularly be a part of my playlists, it is certainly well-done and achieves what it sets out to.
After that we’re on to Gridfailure. After two very strong releases, (Ensuring the bloodline Ends Here, Further Layers of Societal Collapse), the track that is contributed to this split, (Lifecycles Decay), is the longest that the project has yet produced at 16 minutes in length.
Gridfailure is a funny beast. As I say – I don’t normally go in for this kind of thing, but I find Gridfailure’s output strangely fascinating and engaging. This track is no different.
Like a lot of the artist’s previous work, Lifecycles Decay is the sound of horrible, nightmarish things happening to good people and nice places. What I find so involving about Gridfailure is beyond me, as ostensibly there’s little to distinguish the project from any other number of similar groups. However, when you look a bit closer, there’s definitely something else going on here.
There’s something special, something extra, in the Gridfailure formula that I can’t help but connect with. Maybe it’s just the wanton nihilistic bleakness of the work? Maybe it’s the fact that the material is always more nuanced than a lot of similar music? Who knows? All I know is that the soundscapes that are created speak to me in ways that this kind of thing normally doesn’t, and I always find myself listening intently to what they have to say.
All of this is true of Lifecycles Decay. The longer length of the track provides more space than normal for the horrorscape to develop, and I love the ultra-ominous sounds that punctuate the song like cold alien intelligences plotting to snuff out mankind. The tense atmospheres build relentlessly as the mood becomes more and more sinister and foreboding, with real undercurrents of threat barely concealed beneath the malignant exterior.
All hail Gridfailure.