Saturday, May 14, 2011


When two of the more creative forces in outer zone extremity exploration got together back in the 90's to craft ambient dubscapes, few could have anticipated this. Harris had left the rigid confines of grind metal behind to work on more frightening ventures like the superlative ambient death voyager Lull while Laswell was more or less fully in his own element by this point, deeply embedded in the cosmic bass dub universe he pretty much whipped out of nothing. Together the two crafted this masterwork, a slab of blastingly frigid liquid metamorphosis, an ever-mutating ocean of thick, viscous void. It's the sound of the dead of space, or of floating away to the bottom of total nothingness.
This is pure night music. It can't function near the light. All of its considerable power and effectiveness lies in the dark. Just closing your eyes isn't enough for "Somnific Flux"; it demands your total devotion for the hour it crawls along your walls and drapes you in its inky, cloaking clutches. This album will slither over you and cover you in metaphysical tar, as heavy as anything Harris churned out with Napalm Death and as awe-inspiringly cosmic as the farthest reaches Laswell explored on his magnificent solo bass recordings. This was an effort that reached for something deep and far beyond and came out with hands covered in black ice. Nothing less than the howling of Antarctic blizzards or the gargantuan stumble of Lovecraft's outer gods, this album oppresses the psyche like very, very few in modern discographies.
Harris continues to work successfully in this mold while Laswell seems to pretty much have abandoned it, turning in more tepid pronouncements of ambient adventuring. It saddens me that Laswell left the Subharmonic label to wither away into the void it so deftly brought into audial being; nearly every album the label released was worth hearing. Most of modern noise owes a debt to this sort of sound. It's more violent and terrifying than anything a project likeWhitehouse ever produced but its terror works inward, rather than the ultra-abrasive, direct (but no less interesting or commendable) attack that most harsh electronics dealt in. The most obvious successor to the crown forged and worn by "Somnific Flux" is the current deluge of HNW artists; the constancy and blank horror created by Harris and Laswell is merely amped up and fuzzed out, leaving a wall of void that fills the space in a slightly different way. It's hard to imagine Vomir's desire for total removal without landmark works like this one to pave the way. A demonstrative work of isolationist dread, "Sonific Flux" belongs in any insomniac's collection. Highest recommendation.

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