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Philippe Petit - Una Symphonia Della Paura [Utech records - 2012]

Philippe Petit's latest release on Utech records, "Una Symphonia Della Paura", has a grimey, desolate, monochromatic dirge rock sound encircled by fearsome howls of shrill distortion.  Petit has released a truly impressive amount of work since his debut in 2009, and has previously been known as an 'ambient/experimental DJ', so this album appears to be a bit of a departure.

"Murmers", at 4 minutes, is a thunderous, anthemic beginning with a melancholic stoner rock groove.  The robust distorted bass work and epic four chord shoegaze progressions recall Justin Broadrick's Jesu project, but there are no overproduced maudlin croons here, this is purely instrumental record and better for it.

The album begins to breathe a bit more with "Fear Has Fallen", the 17 minute second piece.  Sparse, resounding chords are strummed only seldomly in the initial dead calm, and then a heavy tribal tom rhythm takes hold as noise swells beneath it.  An insistent current of reverb gradually becomes truly vast, and I'm reminded of the cosmic feelings evoked by fellow feedback sculptors AUN and dark ambient pioneer Lustmord.  The noise becomes increasingly metallic and ring modulated, and by the end of the track has considerable volume.  It's certainly several minutes too long.

The third track "The Dark Passenger" is a forboding maelstrom of ripping, blown out crunch, and at this point any rock elements have been completed obscured beneath the relentless, arrhythmic snarls.  It has the energy of an angry storm, a cataclysmic punishment inflicted by nature and the elements.  At 6 minutes, it is the perfect length.

"Diurnal Terror" is a feedback drone which nearly loses its tonal qualities entirely in a buzzing, stinging cloud of overtones.  A simplistic drum machine beat of clicks and pops begins looping half way through the track, sounding quite dry and vintage.  The tribal toms return at the 5 minute mark, just as the drum machine falls into an abrupt precipice.  As with the work of TenHornedBeast, it's easy to imagine primordial lava pits and crags, billowing plumes of smoke and ash.  The last minute of this song makes it my favorite on the album, as an understated plucked guitar underscores the drums with a melody and a polyrhythm, adding a dreamy ethereal facet to the track.

Closer "The Night Has Eyes" brings more tribal drums and swirling, windy distortion.  It's another 11 minute song, and by this point it's getting a bit fatinguing for me to listen to.  The production of the whole album is dry, dusty, cracked, and often a bit washed out with a grainy digital distortion in the treble range, and without a lot of low end to compliment it, resulting in what people call a 'thin' guitar sound.  It sounds lo-fi, and could be a lot more powerful, though to its credit, the recording feels packed with psychic intent, like a quality noise or industrial cassette.  Still, this album is an endurance test to listen to the entire record at once.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Josh Landry
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