Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: Midday Veil - Subterranean Ritual II (Translinguistic Other, 2011)

To a person non-familiar with the work of Seattle’s Midday Veil, the first few minutes of Subterranean Ritual II, released on Translinguistic Other label is one of the many synth drone cassettes, with a slowly unveiling synthesizer drone leading to dreamy, meditative zones. But it soon turns out that the opening drone is just the canvas, upon which layers and layers of new sounds are painted.
Side A’s monster jam “Moon Temple” (nearly 24 minutes long!) slowly adds new elements to the tripped out concoction. The drums, initially shy and hidden with barely audible cymbal play, finally sets the steady, echoed rhythm over which shamanic moans rise and fall – like a more desert-friendly, slightly orientalized version of Ash Ra Tempel. For the majority of the track, the guitar is just barely there, noodling psychedelically in the background, while the reverbed invocations and the pulsing drone merge for a cosmic synergy. It gets more audible toward the end of the track, where the music finally topples and gains incredible momentum, resulting in a fuzzed-out, spastic jam, with six strings burning from frenetic soloing in the vein of Manuel Gottsching or Kawabata Makoto.
Side B’s “Naxos”, besides being considerably ten minutes shorter (a somewhat untypical move, especially for a cassette, where most artists tend to make both sides roughly identical in length) continues the slow, peyotic trance of side A. The music here is more rock-oriented, but it doesn’t mean it’s droneless – the massive drone appears after a few minutes and doesn’t live until the very end, pulsing relentlessly while the guitar spews out lonely, ominous notes and the slow drumming interrupted by washes of cymbal white noise set the mood for the desert ritual.
The dark, evocative atmosphere is amplified by the cassette’s artwork, featuring blurry, purple-hued images of a woman holding a candle, bringing images of 1960’s Satanist gatherings and LaVey/LSD based exploitation mania. Midday Veil sure managed to possess the spirits of the greats of psychedelic rock (Ash Ra Tempel, especially) and more importantly, they managed to let these spirits flow and release them onto the tape, where they etched their forms in form of music. Recommended.


Anonymous said...

Just FYI, side 1 is "Moon Tempel" side 2 is "Naxos". Thanks for the thoughtful review.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the heads up! Corrected.