156 is the project of Adel Souto, and it has seen quite a number of releases in the past couple of years. Eight Steps in the Dance is from 2013 and appears to be a continuation of sounds 156 started in previous releases. There’s nothing very harsh about the project’s noise, but there are many drone textures with tribal and percussive elements that lend an interesting premise to the sound.
The first couple of tracks, titled “Mahakala Awakes” and “This is for Lorrie,” surprised me with the abundance of vocal samples. They’re not gleaned from movies and they’re not there as reference points for the track, but instead are pretty much what comprises the sound. The former features a deep voice chanting and sustaining the drone note, with multiple tracks within that one sound creating texture, like a ritual ceremony. All the while bell tones toll. “This is for Lorrie” works in a similar fashion, with more bell tones randomly dispersed and a looping vocal element with a whispered moan.
What works even better than the excellent vocal loops, though, is 156’s reprisals of sounds on Side B. “A Fire Inside” begins much the same way “Mahakala Awakes” does, but then it morphs into a maturer sound with the addition of what sounds like very staticy synth. “Sense of Entitlement” adds spoken word to the bell tones. “Organ and Drum” is exactly what it says, and evokes an ethereal ritualism.
There are a couple of tracks that don’t jive as well together, with “Strikes to the Body” being the most notably lacking – it’s a track that basically sounds like the flight path of a ping pong ball. But ultimately Eight Steps to the Dance forms a mesmerizing waltz of ritual drones that are driven by vocals instead of electronics.