Friday, June 3, 2011


At long last unleashed, the final Birchville Cat Motel album, freed of any label and released on Campbell Kneale's own Don't Fuck With Magic imprint. I know of at least two labels (Riot Season and At War With False Noise) that were supposed to release this beast as far back as 2006 as BCM's swan song and it's a wonder that both entities snoozed on it for so long, because it's staggeringly beautiful, a recording of immense power and expanse that rivals anything Campbell's put out under the BCM moniker, a piece of music that tears the skies asunder and leaves the stars somewhat dimmed and drunk. A single 42 minute composition, "Stallion" is BCM at its absolute best, continuing down the path first opened by the crushing "Chi Vampires" and later refined on "Gunpowder Temple of Heaven." The latter serves as the best reference point for "Stallion" as it unfolds the same, an ever spreading ocean of globulous melody building and building until it becomes as large as the universe itself, always threatening to collapse but stacking on more and more sound until your heart just can't take it anymore.
Kneale's mastery of sonics at this point is beyond impressive. This record gets up inside of you and pulls until all of the love and appreciation for beauty is shredded and frayed, resulting in a sort of inner dissolve that transcends a physical response and becomes something born of pure emotion. I felt like i was shrinking as i listened to this, such was the room-filling presence of the piece. It made me feel smaller and smaller, cowering before the awesome explosions of beauty in the world, more and more aware of my own trembling insignificance before powers that existed and will exist well past my cognition. Kneale taps into an ether that hovers outside of this realm and the gorgeous chunks he brings back are almost past the point of comprehension. The sounds resemble what we've heard before but the shapes and the structures are completely engulfing, glacial sheets of shimmering buzzing drone that wash over us and render us near inert. This is the music of the ooze, as pure and central as it gets. The source of the drone hovers near, and Kneale accesses something primal, stripped of all pretension or posture, the void worked into affect, tempered by the artistic hand to communicate something altogether deeper and more elusive. This is a natural symphony, Beethoven as a swarm of bees, assembled and shaped by a master's hand, born of a desire to simply create beautiful things.
Kneale's goal is admirable, and there are few projects closer to my heart than Birchville Cat Motel. To reach out into the nether and come back with such formless loveliness is an ability that few modern sound sculptors have. This is a record that embraces and transcends any ideas of metal, drone, or noise. It's everything all at once and something so small and focused that it might escape you if you're not ready to open yourself up to it completely. Erase any connection to the corporeal and let yourself float into the ethereal. "Came A Great Stallion Whose First Leap Sparked the Celestial Star" is an utter explosion, an obliteration of the known and vessel of passage into the surreal and undefined. The beauty rages, shapeless and screaming, howling and whipping across your heart's expanses like a stormcloud about to collapse under its own weight. This is music to make you cry. This is music to make you wonder. This is music to remind you of how awesome it is to be alive. This is sound, and this is magic, and this is the truest expression of beauty in song that you're likely to hear in 2011. Highest possible recommendation. ATTAIN AT ANY COST.

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