Shiver/Sterile Garden – Candle Burning Magic (C40, Diazepam)

Drone, harsh noise, Noise, Review

candle burning magicShiver is the project of Mauro Sciaccaluga, who also runs Diazepam, and Sterile Garden is Jakob, Eric, and Joseph on amplified metal and electronics. On Candle Burning Magic, both projects bring a dark droning sound to this retro-looking cassette, offering harsh noise that would be great for a seance or ritualistic sacrifice.

First up is Shiver with his side-length “Either Forward or Reverse.” This is heavy with guitar and drones, a melancholy rhythm sprawled out across the side while behind it, percussive and staccato beats play out in a punctuated attack. Shiver adds various tape and field recording manipulations, often allowing them to barge into the mix; there’s a lot of banging and crackling like a chair being rolled over uneven floorboards, and the other layers even drop out for a little while to allow for these bangs to centralize. When more sound returns, it’s a cacophony of squealing and out-of-tune electronics with a semblance of the riff that used to be.

Eventually, a sound clip from the film Palindromes works its way in as well, cementing a theme for this work, and then Shiver really lets lose with a huge wall of static and accompanying background drones – there’s very little room within the swirls of chaos, but one can pick out some differing textures and electronic twists. There’s a lot of ambiance and darkness in the way it all builds to a sinister climax, and Shiver’s work here is quite affecting.

Sterile Garden’s side features on track, although it often incorporates moments of silence that tend to indicate a change in the make-up of the sound. It starts out with a blasting, modulated drone before a vibrating shimmery tone takes over. Sterile Garden use amplified metal and tape manipulations as their source, and one can definitely hear the contact mic-esque sounds generated from the metal – there are the standard electronics sounds like bass and percussive elements, but the whirring and drawn-out tones they generate seem to come from those metal materials. It has a unique feel to it that I found refreshing, a somewhat grating drone that doesn’t rely on straight feedback.

Candle Burning Magic is a good place to start for both artists, as this is a strong performance from both Shiver and Sterile Garden. Both artists get about 20 minutes per side, and they make the most of the time afforded. It’s a harsh and noisy cassette, and you can listen here.

Wailing of the Winds – Wailing of the Winds (C30, Diazepam)

dark ambient, Drone, Neofolk

This self-titled cassette from Wailing of the Winds is the only release I could find from this neo-folk drone artist, but it’s quite an intriguing one. Wailing of the Winds plays a brand of dark, moody folk, full of bells and acoustic guitars and swelling violin. It’s all beautiful in its morbidity, and the darkest recesses of this cassette still harbor glimmers of enchanting themes. There’s even a Thergothen cover to end the second side.

“Gathering of Flies” ebbs and flows with a droning sound that mimics the wailing of a choir. It builds, slowly getting louder while adding in subtle pieces of instrumentation; you’ll start to hear bells, and percussive elements, and even some tambourine perhaps. It happens slowly, but it’s an excellent track thanks to the minuteness of the sound, how simply it escalates. “Stumble March” works on a similar pattern, with melancholy acoustic guitar providing rhythm until an excellent use of violin strings accompanies darkly. And “Drift” adds onto that ethereal theme with a floating fog of guitar.

The baroque bleakness of the longer “Drunk Funeral” is beautiful in its sparseness, with just the fleeting amounts of percussion to give it a marching beat. And Wailing of the Winds does an excellent job with Thergothen’s “Everlasting,” terribly agonizing with the sawing of the violins which appear just out of key, even some echoing mellifluous vocals.

This is a glum but beautiful showing from Wailing of the Winds, a soundtrack to dead trees and winter gloom. They do some excellent neo-folk, and it’s certainly worth a check-out even if you’re not into that sort of thing.

Deprivation – Deprivation (C30, Diazepam)

dark ambient, harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

Deprivation’s self-titled release is described as a nod back to death industrial, and the rhythm and grind of rather sparse electronics does exude that ideal. Deprivation is an ideal moniker for this project, because the noise offered on this C30 does not deliver a large amount of electronics; instead, it’s minimal at most, with each track often providing only spare amounts of sound throughout the course of it.

The first track on this release is perhaps the best; it’s pure feedback worship, combining minimal sounds and a slight rhythm with lots of feedback for quite a few minutes. The other two tracks on the side, “A Place of Total Despair” and “Stare Into These Eyes,” are just not as interesting, and the repetitive rhythms featuring very little noise didn’t do a whole lot for me.

The second side is much better, with two longer tracks that fall into the rhythms Deprivation creates. “The Warmest Place to Hide” is looping, but there’s more going on – some static crackle, a little feedback, and what sounds like some vocal yelling in the background that pairs nicely with the feedback. Deprivation needs to strike a happy medium between repetitive and simply uninteresting, and once some layers are added to his marching noise, the tracks begin to create a desperate and uneasy tone. “Left to Rot At the Bottom of Hell” features small oscillations of sound along with a thumping percussive beat and a synth tone that’s quite creepy actually – it’s these sort of soundscapes that really work on Deprivation.

Kind of a disappointing A-side on this cassette, but the B-side makes up for it with some delightfully eerie vibes. Deprivation isn’t working on a grandiose scheme with sound, so the ones that he does produce have to stand on their own; if they don’t, all the listener is left with is a repetitive beat. But when Deprivation combines layers, the sound produced is cold and menacing.

Shiver – Born to Lose (3″ CD-R, Diazepam)

harsh noise, Noise, power electronics, Review

Shiver is Mauro Sciaccaluga, the owner and operator of the Diazepam label. Shiver has only a few releases under its belt, with three of them being from this year alone. The project specializes in power electronics, with screaming vocals from the artist buried underneath rumbling bass and punctuated rhythms. This 3″ clocks in around 17 minutes, with three tracks on blank white CD-R in an oversized case. A disturbing insert with a skeletal child and a full-page spread of the cover comes included.

Born to Lose is certainly going for a more horror-themed tone, which is not only limited to its artwork and song titles but the sonics as well. “The House of Others” begins with a feedback squall which doesn’t puncture the ears, instead providing a minor irritant. Underneath is a rather dark sound clip of a group fighting, and despite the muffled vocals, a few key phrases like “don’t panic”, “call an ambulance”, and “die” resonate from within before the track explodes into a bass-heavy rhythm that recycles the feedback from before; Shiver’s unintelligible vocals echo behind. The bass has an interesting feel to it, because at first it almost feels like there’s no rhythm at all to the noise, but instead a mess of crumbling sounds. Not so – the repetition soon brings to light the hidden power electronics march, a track that is not instantly gratifying but becomes so after concentrated listening.

“There Was Blood Everywhere” continues the mid-paced saunter of noise, this time with a rhythmic throbbing buzz along with sweeps of atmospheric electronics behind it. Pounding vibrato static creates continuous beats, and sustained sounds give this track a dank, drone vibe that feels nicely layered, always being built upon by Shiver, including echoing, manipulated sound clips. The track has a slow burn to it, a method of bricklaying that eventually crafts a textured wall of moody noise that mimics the thematic story of the speaker on the track.

A heady wall of surging static and fast-moving beats rounds out the whole affair on “Poison the Spring.” This has got some energy to it thanks to the repetitive rhythm, and harsh feedback whistles and squeals on top like a deranged marching flutist. Very wall-like in design, this track establishes a density that the other tracks do not, and there’s a real sense of urgency generated with the pulsing noise. Shiver’s vocals are also their strongest on this track, overcoming the onslaught of sound with a delivery that’s better bodied than on the first track.

Born to Lose is power electronics done with an element of unsettling dread on each track. The pieces are fairly repetitious, but that returning rhythm often generates cascading noises that play over the continuous sounds to add a new dimension. With the dark sound samples and conglomeration of sounds, Born to Lose ensures that it doesn’t live up to its title.

Buy from Diazepam