Album: 31 Spirits
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: Jan 28 2014
Genre: Industrial/Dark Ambient
If you are new to cEvin Key’s latest collaboration Scaremeister, what will soon become apparent is just how appropriate the project’s name is and this album is horrifying! It consists of 31 tracks which I will call “instrumental experiences,” with each experience between one and two minutes long. These are made in collaboration with industrialist legend Ken “Hiwatt” Marshall and renowned composer of videogame scores Traz Damji. It would surely take such a group of twisted geniuses to morph an album consisting of 31 distinct mini-scores for the movie and videogame industry, into an addictively horrifying experience in its own right? And it does. . . has. . .whatever!
I am going to make no attempt to chronologies this journey, as that may be impossible. At various points throughout the work we hear orchestral elements, chanting, whooping, dubby bass, rising, drawn out, strained synths, shocking, creaking samples and tormented, wailing electronics. This macabre sonic landscape subtly tricks you in with immersive, ambient techno, which drips with menace, malevolence and, at times, outright Lynchian terror. This project re-imagines Key’s earlier work with Skinny Puppy for the 10’s, exhibiting all of the morbidly addictive ‘wrongness’ the great master is infamous for, and giving it a contemporary slant which calls to mind Tool, turn-of-the-century Frontline Assembly and more than a hint of a gothic reimagining of Amon Tobin.
Cold, desolate sounds mix with warm, growing richness. As a whole, it is a creepy and slow-burning yet an utterly immersive, hypnotic and horrifying journey, which lulls your psyche before abusing it again and again. Soothing, shocking, saddening and strange, this grows into an all encompassing journey which is by turns peaceful and terrifying. At times a smooth energy is injected into the coldly haunting minimalism, but, while effective, these up-tempo moments are rare, and, rest assured, you will be looking over your shoulder, rather than pumping your fist! Key et al exhibit a craftsman’s use of suspense and silence to create a sound which makes you feel as if you have received phone call direct from hell, androgynous wails of agonised androids crawling up the line and into your ear.
Many industrial acts use brutality and shock to harass and terrify their listeners, and while there are some ‘jump out your seat’ moments here, this project is much more brooding, clever, unnerving and psychological than most, as it shakes and torments you with its violent tangents, continually oscillating between demented and sublime.
The Meister of Scare? Definitely, but Key always had been! For the faint of heart, listen to it with the lights on. . . with a teddy. . . and a gun! For the rest, shut the curtains, turn up the volume and try not to scream!
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