Matt Henshaw brings the noise with his release Unfurled, a 75-minute long sprawl of oscillating industrial drones and metallic clanks and blips that remind one of underwater submarine life on a sub doomed to a life of hell. In fact, this is one of Henshaw’s darker, harsher forays, one that literally furls and unfurls into minimalist, extended low notes and high pitched squawls.
It’s the softer minimalist aspect of the track that draws this listener in, what with the ever-underlying hum and the quick clanks and patters that suck the listener into a dark lull. The subtle, rolling drip-drips coupled with the low notes are calming and pleasant to the ears, designed to put on in a trance. After a while, squealing feedback works its way over the drone, penetrating that trance in an homage to the track’s title, unfurling what was glacially built up. The feedback of the track is harsh and unsettling, and although it’s a nice jar from the quiet solitude of the minimalism, they sometimes proceed a little bit too long.
This listener enjoys, however, the subtleties that Henshaw plays with, an experimentation within lower and higher volumes. Though repetitive, the track mimics its title, slowly pulsing its way towards dark oblivion. It’s slightly creepy, too, and a good listen for late-night spooks. The industrial tones of the piece are more reminiscent of Henshaw’s 320 than his previous works, and a lot more inaccessible to those not familiar with harsher noise. But Henshaw’s ability to lull the listener and then snap them out of the gentle hands of the drone is captivating, even if the feedback does make for a very difficult 70 minutes.
This is not easy listening, nor is it a track meant to be taken in pieces. To get the full experience out of Henshaw’s album, one must take in the entire track, which is no easy task considering its length. If one can get past these hurdles, though, there’s a harrowing experience underneath that Henshaw has provided. The hum of the radiator will never sound the same again.
And again, Henshaw has dedicated a lot of time and energy to the presentation of his work, wrapping the album’s case with a nice tie to again emphasize the importance of unfurling.