Godheadscope - A City Out of Sight [God is Myth - 2007]
Godheadscope is a project by Matt Rosin, who has also worked as Cindervoice and with Dead Raven Choir. A City Out of Sight is the full length debut for Godheadscope, and it's a hefty slab. It's taken me quite some time to be able to review this, partly because I wasn't exactly sure how to process the material. It is without a doubt an original work, which forges its own territory.
Along the way there are some mildly familiar signposts, which I will touch on as we go through this disk. These supposed (perhaps mistaken) influences are obscured by a patina which marks it as the work of an inspired individual.
The disc kicks off with Room of Light, a piece which begins with almost Wagnerian horn-like waves of sound, which sound as if they may have been sourced from keyboards. Each reverberated tone is given time to stretch out almost to the point of silence. Imagine a Morton Feldman piece played through a distorted keyboard at high volume and you're part of the way there. This music is undoubtedly a bit more ordered, and way more loud than Feldman, but the comparison is made in order to purport the use of the delayed tones to achieve a natural sound. Vocals come in after a few minutes, which are sung in an almost elegiac tone. Jhonn Balance comparisons spring to mind, due to the fact that the melodies are dark and portentous, and roam within a spiritual void. Not to say that they are derivative; there's a bit more vocal control, probably a result of Rosin's musical training, and there's also a kind of Black Metal filter in place.
The second track, Joy/Grime is even better; it's anchored by what sounds like gongs. There are discernible layers of sound, with the vocals set way in the background, creating a somewhat malevolent effect. Melodic piano enters the mix partway in, then a very noisy drone begins to dominate the background. Meanwhile the piano becomes sporadically discordant. Then the intensity dies down, while distorted guitar notes litter the foreground, and gong tones conclude the piece with long, decaying tones.
The third track, Dusk on Glass begins in a drone, then shifts to long tones, with melodic keyboard backing. It's the most traditionally ambient of A city Out of Sight's tracks. It has a soundtrack-like quality reminiscent of Climax Golden Twins' wonderful Session 9 score. It comes across as an audio equivalent to the long shot in cinema, which is to say, it has an understated, powerful feel. The Weight of Paper, the album's final track, is a mixture of drifting piano, distorted electric guitar, with wandering vocals over top. It comes across to me as a bit of a mish-mash, and seems to lack the focus of the previous tracks.
As a whole, A city Out of Sight could easily have been crushed by the weight of it author's ambition. There are so many ideas going on, it's amazing that it hangs together as it does. Aside from the aforementioned last track (which may begin to make more sense on successive listens), the album creates an atmosphere which matches the excellent photographs which grace its sleeve (taken by Matt Rosin's father). The front cover photo of a decrepit door with three locks, and a radiating paint splotch on it, provides fuel for your imagination. You wonder where such a door might lead you. A City Out of Sight's music provides the same sense of mystery.