Wehrmacht Lombardo - Au Convent De Panthemont [Altar Of Waste - 2013]
“Au Convent De Panthemont” is released on Altar Of Waste, which means another beautifully presented album in their house style. So, we get a smartly designed and printed inlay, in a dvd case; adorned with pictures of a nun (modelled by the artist’s partner, it would appear) somewhat forgetting her sacred vows… Wehrmacht Lombardo (which I hope and assume is a reference to Dave Lombardo, Slayer drummer) offers forth one long track, over an hour, of drone and noise - or rather drone and noises.
The piece is inspired by the Marquis de Sade’s “Juliette” (hence the nun imagery) and is described by the artist as “airless drone manipulated on analog effects”. To some extent, it can be broken down into two parts: a first, where the drone is marred (for me) by looping noises; and a second, where drones and noises are played with to a greater, and more effective, extent. This first section actually begins with the sounds of women groaning in pleasure, before the drone, which stays the entire track, enters. This drone, described as “airless” by Miguel Perez (Wehrmacht Lombardo), is to my ears actually quite breathy; but at the same time, there’s a “burrowing”, underground quality to it. The main point of note, though, are the clipping sounds which accompany it from the off. These loop around the stereo-field, followed by occasional reverbed “flapping” and “flitting” sounds. The clipping, though, somewhat ruins things for me. The sounds before the point of clipping are pleasant, but once they enter the red, they become a distraction from the drone. This is compounded by their looping, rhythmic nature; which relies on slight variations, but nevertheless remains a loop. This relegates and removes the effectiveness of the drone for me. It could be interesting, or mesmeric, but the “noisy” quality of the sounds (the clipping) destroys the possibility of detached concentration. If you can convince your brain to interpret the clipping as simple “sound” - rather than signifying “clipping” - then the sounds become a beguiling three-dimensional element; but its hard to fight my brain’s insistence that it is “clipping”. After around fifteen minutes, the tone of the track changes; with the looping wandering in volume and equalization. The second section begins halfway through the track, with the drone becoming very airy; Perez making it “sing”, over a bed of very washy, trebley hiss. Here, the essential qualities of the finally drone are teased out, with undulations and resonations. Around the fifty minute mark, the rhythmic elements return, but now they are convincingly part of the overall picture - still clipping, but given the previous section of “pure” drone, its a compositional development. This, actually straighter, looping builds on and from the drone; becoming properly mesmeric, until the piece breaks open just before the hour mark.
With a droning track of this length and somewhat limited palette of sounds, the key is the hypnotizing of the listener. I don’t feel that the first half of “Au Convent De Panthemont” achieves this, but the second certainly does. The whole piece is very multi-layered, despite appearing slightly one-dimensional on first listens; rewarding careful listening on headphones. But, as spelled out above, the colours and progressions of the second half of the track, are the stand-out, here.Martin P