Album Reviews

Belong – October Language

(Carpark) UK release date: 20 February 2006

My father once had a job whacking rust off the inside of a ship’s hull with a large metal hammer. The rust matted his hair, stuck to his skin and coated his tongue. Each swing of the hammer was followed by huge dank reverberations and further showers of rust.

The sound was amplified in the cavernous darkness of the ship’s depths. It seemed to feed on itself. Each return was heavier and more saturated. The ungodly sound freaked him out so much that he didn’t go back after lunch. It haunted his nightmares for weeks. If I played him October Music I am sure it would unearth the memories of that morning and return him to his misspent youth in London.

The soundtrack of my father’s nightmare is bliss to me. October Music is full of static despair, vapour trails of twilight, ghosts of some forgotten form of sleep. This is music as fractured drift: melting icecaps, frost bitten gold. The music is a slow reveal, creeping like ivy over an abandoned house. Snatches of iridescent harmony collide with disintegrating chords. The music swirls, repeats and dissolves in a luminous blanket of fuzz and distortion. Imagine William Basinski remixed by My Bloody Valentine or Pluramon scored by Morton Feldman.

New Orleans duo Turk Dietrich and Michael Jones recorded October Music in Dietrich’s bedroom studio. The lush textures and sly chromatic shifts belie such humble origins. Sounds are processed and warped, morphed into new tones and timbres. The tracks swim in gentle waves of noise. This is Post Rock atom splitting. The tried and tiresome tension and release, anti-climax and crescendo of much of the genre has been fractured and dispersed here. Melodies are disrupted, classical progressions rupture and split open, spilling out shards of retracted noise.

Dividing the LP into tracks seems perverse, as it should be heard as a single movement. There is drama here but it’s found in the Pinter like pauses, the sudden volume losses, the U-turns and disintegration.

The gentle sound of organ washes ushers in the Never Lost Never Really, the organ tones hang suspended before being slowly and beautifully engulfed in swarms of guitar. The processed signals die away before resurfacing in a series of complex reverberations. It’s the sound of Alvin Lucier‘s I Am Sitting in a Room rewired through a guitar and a series of broken effects pedals.

The beauty of the title track resides in the repeating of a buried and blurred motif that could be a guitar, a string section or the sigh of an angel. The track uncoils from skeletal electric hum, through the echoing of single notes to silence and back again. It’s the sounds of the slow insatiable decay of metal by time. Rust never sleeps, time never ceases, corrosion is endemic.

October Music unfurls like a winter morning, the details hidden beneath fog. The tiny sonic details appear only on closer listening. When you lose yourself inside it you can hear the sine waves that shimmer through All Equal Now, the strung out bass notes that sound like a burnt out star on I’m Too Sleepy, Shall We Swim. The epic The Door Opens Another Way is like heartbreak dropped into a Dichroic prism. Refracted melancholy and white noise heaven.

It is a while since I have been so bewitched by a piece of music. This cleanses the soul. Allow yourself to bathe in its liberating phosphorescent light. Disappear for forty minutes inside Belong’s shattered world. This is perfect.

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Belong – October Language