Dunnock / Promo 2014: a microuniverse of raw noisy BM primitivism leading into ambient multiverses

Dunnock, Promo 2014, Psalm 88 / Acephale Winter Productions, cassette PSALM001 (2014)

Limited to just 88 copies, this tiny demo is the work of the fellow who heads Acephale Winter Productions and its sub-label Psalm 88. The unusual thing about all these 88 copies is that each and every one of them has a B-side that is different from all the others in the print run as the Dunnock dude recorded 88 unnamed ambient instrumental works for the promo. This of course potentially means that every review of this promo that you read must necessarily be very different from every other review.

Apart from that observation, the tiny recording features three incredibly raw and noisy primitivist BM tracks, two of which are remixes of an original piece not on this demo, on the A-side. Beware: the two sides of the cassette are not marked “Side A” or “Side B” so you need to pay attention to the tracks to figure out which side is which. Side A’s opening track is a witheringly harsh and cruel soundscape of swirling ghost voice and trance-inducing wobble guitar chord drones. The second track is even more raw and heavily distorted to boot, the voices blowing constantly and ripping the skin off your ears, the deep drone rhythms sounding more like churning tombstone-heavy grind and groan as they mow down all before them. It is a pitiless roaring, churning demon that has you in its cold, burning grip. Track 3 is a mournful, funereal dirge of yet more howling vocal set against a doomy background. Though short and repetitive, together all three tracks generate a strong, intense and memorable soundscape of gritty distorted vocal noise and impending menace. The middle one might make the most impression for its dense and abrasive textures but the last is an emotionally complex piece that leaves the listener in a state of wonder and unease for a long time.

The nameless B-side track on my copy of the cassette is creepy and intense in atmosphere, and brims with unseen malevolence and horror. The music is actually quite simple: it’s a more or less repeating loop of quivering low drones with echo effects. The reverb and the cavern-like ambience magnify the feeling of fear and edginess. As the track continues, it exercises a hypnotic effect and I feel myself drawn into the deep dark abyss. Strangely I feel some reassurance that all isn’t as bad as I had thought, though this odd feeling might be akin to the sense of drowsy peace some people experience when being hugged and crushed by giant grizzly bears. For me anyway, this track makes my purchase of the demo worth what I paid for it – but I have to warn again, each copy of the demo carries a different B-side ambient track and some of these tracks could be better than others.

Contact: Psalm 88