Flesh Coffin is Andreas Brandal’s decidedly dark and unearthly noise project which combines a lot of junk electronics and harsh noise wall aesthetics together. So Much Darkness is, like its titled, filled to the brim with grim noise and haunting atmospheric qualities; it is often filled with as many voids of darkness as it is sounds.
Side A begins with “Preparation”, the bulk of first side coming it at almost 14 minutes. A swirling of tape manipulation and mechanical glitching opens the track, watery cascades that mimic the tape’s artwork of a coffin riding a black tide. It almost sounds like the cassette is broken, or your tape player is eating the reel; don’t run to switch it off. Soon, a blistering wave of static squall will wash over, to be broken and reformed into a drone of black mulch shifting and pitching into a state of nothing. Flesh Coffin often refines and reforms the track into something different, always bleak and lifeless. It’s interesting to note Brandal’s genre movements throughout “Preparation”; each is thoroughly compelling, although sometimes the blending from one to the next is a bit spotty.
It’s difficult to tell, but I believe “Dress My Wounds” comes in with a scraping junk sound of harsh abrasive clutter, with feedback coalescing and shaping underneath some static. Despite its chaotic sound, there’s actually a fairly rhythmic feel to the battering of slashing sound, and Brandal ensures that he runs through the gamut of his junk electronics by imitating sounds with different noises. There’s a real harsh noise feel to this track; equating it to earlier Merzbow records wouldn’t be a disservice, but there’s certainly more of a theme here than random smatterings of scrap banging. I quite like it; the ferocity is apparent, as is the sound of chains appropriate to the slavish world Flesh Coffin creates with his noise.
Side B holds “Grindstone” and “So Much Darkness”. The former again starts with that demented tape squelch, this time with a sort of circus-esque rhythm until Flesh Coffin adds some background fuzz to it along with a unchanging pitch tone. Lots of dark shifting in the background of this one, a crawling feeling behind the standard drone. But the short length of “Grindstone” ensures that it doesn’t really stand out much on this tape. The title track carries on a squall of static to begin with, but since the tape is mastered rather low, everything has a very murky feeling, and there’s definitely a bit of background noise going on that heightens this from just another surging HNW track to something more caustic. Little flashes of scrap electronics patter against the wall, and Flesh Coffin even leaves spaces in between like claustrophobic breaths. There’s no escaping the darkness, only small reprieves.
So Much Darkness is one of those tapes that feels haunted and withered, despite the apparent philosophy that noise shouldn’t be able to harvest a specific emotion. Flesh Coffin’s sparks of static, the scraping of chains, the unsettling gutter that the sound puts the listener in, feels like a deep-set connection between artist and listener; we share anger and darkness.