Most of us know Non’s Boyd Rice from the militaristic drums and Nietzchian chants of classics like “Total War,” but Boyd has a softer side as well. Following in the more mellow ambient tradition of his previous album Receive the Flame, Non’s newest recording submerges Medieval atmospherics in layers of muted static and echoes. A concept album based on Rice’s interpretation of the Gnostic traditions, Children of the Black Sun begins with the soft harp notes and mournful, droning horns of “Arka,” before moving into the siren noise and distorted strings of “Black Sun.” “Serpent of the Heavens” and “Serpent of the Abyss” both feature fuzzy drones and static. The former features darkly psychedelic guitar sounds, while the latter features a grating violin (played by guest musician Albin Julius of Der Blutharsch) that is strident enough to remind us why Boyd Rice is considered a noise musician. By the end of the album, Rice returns to more familiar territory. While not as harsh as early efforts like Blood and Flame, the synthesizers on “The Fountain of Fortune” have an unmistakably European feel that calls to mind Rice’s collaborations with Douglas P. of Death In June, while the bombastic string sounds and distorted voice samples on “Son of the Sun” are reminiscent of his more militaristic side. While the Non of today is nowhere near as grating on the ears as the Non of twenty years ago, Children of the Black Sun is still plenty unsettling and will no doubt be rabidly gobbled up by the cult following Rice has gathered around himself. As an added bonus for true audiophiles, the album has also been released with a DVD edition optimized for Surround-Sound, bringing Non’s twisted brand of dark soundscapes to an entirely new dimension.
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