Monday, April 13, 2009
Aethenor - Deep in the Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light
"Aethenor is the trio of Stephen O’Malley (or SOMA) on guitar, contact mic and electronics, Daniel O’Sullivan on piano and percussion and Vincent De Roguin processing, mixing and playing organ. All three are credited with “room,” whatever that means, and I have an idea. On “Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light” the trio mines a brooding amalgam of cycling, industrial clatter and improvised/composed pieces, all seamlessly edited together to invoke a dark, meditative deep listening experience. Squealing hinges, droning guitars, rustling chains and bells banging up against concrete and wood add up to a room-saturating nightmare at high volumes that takes cues from sources as disparate as ancient Greek fantasy and modern minimal drone masters like Mirror and irr.app.(ext).
Across four untitled tracks the trio explores a subliminal sound sculpture reminiscent of the grim crawl of Nurse With Wound’s pulsing masterpiece, “Salt Marie Celeste,” (as evinced on the incredible opener “Untitled”—all tracks here are untitled), AMM and Organum’s organic-metallic free-falls, among others. What gets me though is the way the trio combines beautiful minimal drones taken from the early Krautrock drone handbook with striking found sounds (a cawing crow is employed brilliantly on the phenomenal second track) and unorthodox live percussion. And it’s all coated in a surreal glitchy haze to help throw even the most mesmerizing passages at least a little off-balance.
As for the album title, it’s a line from Homer’s “The Iliad,” which is hardly off the beaten path for O’Malley and his typically ancient concerns. The reading of many an epic sea-faring push into the oceanic abyss would likely benefit from an aural injection of this dark mood soup. “Deep in Ocean Sunk the Lamp of Light” is one of the finest experimental albums of 2006." - Lee Jackson