Vision Stains brings together two harsh noise artists with blossoming discographies, and yet they create something different than their pedigrees might suggest. Comprised of Tanner Garza (Black Leather Jesus, solo project, owner of Bookend) and Ques (Wet Dream Asphyxiation), one might think that Vision Stains would at least meet both of their projects in the middle somewhere, but Æon takes on a life of its own with its blend of field recordings and stretched sounds.
The tape is split into two parts, “Arkhe Pt. I” and “Arkhe Pt. II.” The first part begins the piecemeal assembly of a deep and murky swamp sound – the field recording aspect of Æon isn’t easy to pick up on, mostly because the samples have been damaged so that they ramble and reverberate, shuddering along at a slow rate of change. “Pt. I” keeps stacking sounds on top of each other throughout; it’s sort of like a harsh noise wall in that it builds with subtle dynamics. That shuddery drone continues throughout, but underneath the layer are squawky birdsong, crinkles of static, and slivers of feedback.
“Arkhe Pt. II” is right in the same mindset as the first side; it’s got that droning feel of murky sludge, juddering and combined together to form an abyss of sound. There are areas that are identifiable, though – the drone feels like it’s coming from a guitar or synth line, and that opens up right in the middle of the track to give it a less closed-off feel. Static plays a big role underneath the drone, and later on the field recordings reoccur with haunting vocal-like loops echoing into space. On first listen I thought that Vision Stains played it too safe with both tracks, that there wasn’t enough to differentiate the two. But subsequent listens debunked that; though “Arkhe Pt. II” has a lot of empty space in its sound, careful listening will reward.
Æon is a tape that seems to do the same thing throughout, but that’s really not the case. It’s easy to get sucked into the murk, distracted by how dense it sounds. Yet throughout the shadows the shapes of sounds appear, making this a hypnotic and enveloping listen.