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Thalassa

Thalassa - Bonds of Prosperity album art

Bonds of Prosperity

19th May 2017 – SIGE

01. Pitted Aegis
02. Secular Pyres
03. Face Obscure
04. Revolting Corpus

Cinematic drone stalwart William Fowler Collins and post-everything miscreant Aaron Turner are a very healthy match, and a collaboration that showcases Turner’s experimental compositions is an alluring prospect for artsy metal fans who’ve followed his increasingly left-field post-Isis output. To that end, meet Thalassa.

The description, ‘avant-drone’, might frighten even those acquainted with the denser side of experimental music, but Bonds of Prosperity is well in the American minimalist tradition; think Earth 2 with a sharper focus and you’re in the right ballpark. If you’ve come here from Isis, you might be a little bemused, but given Turner’s recent work with Mamiffer a collaboration like this makes perfect sense.

Early tracks “Pitted Aegis” and “Secular Pyres” are reasonably static, unassailable walls of hissing, powerful drone. Formidable and adversarial, it’s surprising how many adjectives can be thrown at this and not really do it justice, but in practical terms it’s full and throaty with a malicious edge over most other modern drone.

Face Obscure” separates the dronescapes with abrupt, muffled screaming; the distortion of human voices lends it an especially unsettling quality. The track ends with some arrhythmic plucked strings; it’s probably the most sonically-diverse song here, and certainly the most unnerving. “Revolting Corpus“, the concluding track, is much more fluid and explorative than previous outings and it’s firmly towards the latter half of the record where the momentum is focussed. Here the experiments are more mercurial than the harsh, monolithic drone of the initial tracks.

Even the seemingly-static early tracks do move, but their exploration is beyond glacial. By the end of the record, “Revolting Corpus“‘s pace is ice-cold, unfurling like a timelapse of a collapsing iceberg. Momentum does build, and the conclusion is a much different beastie than its inception; the hiss that haunts the record becomes more purposeful, less an unassailable wall and more lumbering.

Bonds of Prosperity is difficult and rather unwelcoming, and even those who lean towards the Merzbow/Sunn O))) side of things may find this a little hard to swallow. It’s refreshing to see that the Thalassa project appears to be completely genuine, tongues firmly out of cheeks. This is probably going to appeal to record collectors anyway, but Thalassa’s cinematic experiments do greatly benefit from the art and accompanying images that encourage a broader experience.

Thalassa are the soundtrack to narrowly passing gigantic, terrifying sea creatures. Ponderous, lugubrious and fathomless, the pair supercharge Collins’ explorative qualities and give Turner’s work more space to breathe. There’s a strong sense that this is a collaborative effort and both give leeway to each other as composers; the result is as expected, but it’s also damn effective.

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