Remnants – Vision Being (C24, Imminent Frequencies)

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Remnants is a fairly new drone act, with three releases out so far on the Imminent Frequencies label (which is also quite recent). Vision Being is Remnants’ third release, and it features two 12 minute tracks of droning noise. The tape is a black cassette with both sides featuring a blue sticker with black splotches. Continuing the darker imagery is the front cover of the tape, which is a black and gray printed image of a cathedral, with a slab of light filtering through a window – yet even so, the artwork feels foreboding, and the back of the J-card has an ambiguous geometrical figure labeled with the atmosphere on the outer surface.

Side A starts out with a gloomy drone, a swirling blackness along with some wavering higher-pitched tones overtop. The drone sounds almost choral in its execution, as though voices are projecting this eerie bleakness. Swirling textures play upon it, continually building on top of the first idea with an ebb and flow of sound. Transcendent background sounds make their way into the cut as the piece builds in intensity, with that overall wavering pitch taking on an almost indefatigable strength. Progression allows the sound to give way to windy whispers of sound, which cloaks the track in a very eerie, cave-like claustrophobia, again emphasizing that push-pull, ebb and flow nature of the opposing textures. Towards the end, we get a Gregorian chant dipped in distortion, somewhat converting the monks’ chanting in a darker, more blasphemous tone – for if the distortion of the chants is a sort of deconstruction of sound and ideals, it serves its purpose to alter and negate the intentions of the chant. What this produces is another layer of unsettling drones which equate more to moaning.

Side B begins with a similar thematic slant, with a thinner and distant, static-oriented drone. It shifts shortly with a swirling, echoing loop of sound that is very synth-like in tone, though the description on Imminent Frequencies discloses that no synths were used on this tape. The swirling increases in volume, enveloping the soundscape and lightening the mood with more shimmering tones. There are times where the influence (if not actual sound sources) of the Gregorian chants shines through again, mostly with the thick drones of the background sound, but what seems to be most on display is the shivery loops that resonate on and on. This runs on for the balance of the track, until some chirruping echoes cut in, whirling until high-pitched feedback surprises the listener as the track spirals to its conclusion.

Vision Being has some great surprises, and the cuts run fleetly from beginning to end. It’s very hypnotic, and the subtleties between intensity shifts is nicely balanced. Side B seems the weaker side to me, less brooding and momentous than its predecessor, but the harsher shift toward the end of the track really caught me off-guard, and gradually I became enervated by its diligence. Vision Being is definitely worth a listen, and I’m certainly going to be checking out more of Remnants and future releases.

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