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William Fowler Collin & Gog - Malpais [Utech Records - 2011]

With "Malpais" we have another Utech release, this time an experiment from drone doom metal stalwart Gog and William Fowler Collins, an experimental electronic artist with whom I have no prior familiarity.

It is sound to 'dream into': billowing ashen opacities.  A desolate infinite wasteland, an emptiness that only waits, a loneliness known to the real lost souls (Mick Harris, Arktau Eos), whose travels will inevitably end further into nowhereland than they began, receding ever further from warmth and company.

We are shown five destroyed locations.  With a title like "Fire in the Valley", one can almost taste the ash on their tongue.  The pieces are made from grimed and muffled noise tones- the sounds are like an ambient noise wall (ANW), but then, to refer to an album with such a classic, grim dark ambient atmosphere as 'ANW' should serve to remind us that Lull, Archon Satani and others have been making almost totally motionless white noise environments for upwards of 20 years.

The two interludes of sorts, "Notice of Location" and "Continuum" are pushier sheets of white noise, 1 and 3 minutes in length, respectively.  Elsewhere on "Malpais", noise tones are sculpted and panned in ways that seem to hint at spaces faintly visible behind the clouds of ash, but there is no reverberant depth to these 2 tracks, and so they create only a blank feeling in the mind.  They are well placed.

The two longest pieces are the best. "Abandonment" frames the erosive winds with a murmuring subsonic pulse, a massive drum mostly muted beneath layers of rock.  The 18 minute closer "Of Ash and Wind" is a mesmerizing, placid black pool of mostly hinted sounds, all the more hallucinatory for the space they have left the imagination to fill.  It's my favorite track on the album.

Conclusively, this is a masterfully conceived work of desolate dark ambient minimalism with a charming analog imperfection to it.  Even in its emptiness and sparsitude, no moment is wasted on "Malpais".  I recommend it to anyone potentially receptive to slowly unfolding soundscapes, and especially if you're a fan of artists I mentioned like Lull, Arktau Eos or Archon Satani.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
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