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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Sigillum S - Studs And Divinity [Monochrom​e Vision - 2013]

Here’s a re-issue from the Russian Monochrome Vision label, with a pro-printed inlay adorned with a potted history of Sigillum S in English and Russian. Its a name that I recognise, but the liner notes certainly fill in the gaps in my knowledge. “Studs and Divinity”, one of Sigillum S’s earlier albums, was released on cassette back in 1989; it appears on cd here, digitally remastered and with bonus tracks.

I have to confess that on first listen, I found absolutely nothing of interest; but further listening opened the album out more to my ears. It does sound of its time: “Five Or Six Corpses”, with its spilling drum machine and synth stabs is somewhat throwaway and archaic. The beginning of “Night” features more dated keyboard stabs and “A Violin Is Kissing A Decomposed Listz” starts with more drum loops: it’s overwhelmingly these keyboard/synth and drum sounds and parts which date the album - though some of the effects used also sound a little old. “Plague Privilege Plug” combines these elements into a Wax Trax-esque effort, though noisier and less martial - ending in a beautiful slow-down that shines like scattered stars. In general, the more abrasive pieces fare worst than the more atmospheric, soundy attempts. The opening track, “Priesthood Of Whore Kaosdom”, is based around strong, whistling feedback tones (either via feedback or synth), underpinned by gloomy, reverberating synth bass and echoing clatter. Its an effectively unsettlingly piece of ambience. As is “Sharing Your Intimate Experience Alongside A Masochistic Matchmaker”, one of the extra tracks; this foregrounds brooding synths against distant clangs, to create a very dark, sinister tone. A crass comparison would be with some of the soundtrack work associated with Fulci’s zombie films.
 
This is a difficult album for me to offer much direction on. It clearly stands as a historical document, but one which I must admit I can’t put into too much context: my knowledge of that time period and Sigillum S themselves is fairly minimal. Listening to it as an album in itself, it does sound dated overall; though thats not a criticism as such. As I said above, the more atmospheric works on “Studs And Divinity” are very convincingly eerie and foreboding; definitely worth a listen. The one piece where perhaps they push too far in that direction, “Chewing A Just Used Condom In Her After Coming Bliss… Ageing And Death Of Masses”, becomes a weak, gothy, pseudo-classical dirge; before stretching into noisier climes. These noisier moments across the album achieve varying degrees of success, but the second track, “Two Miniskirted Scorpions Digitally Mating On A Platform”, is perhaps the most effective; featuring sheets of metallic sound stretched over churning synth gurgles. The whole album is very synth heavy, possibly in its favour; though there is a strummed, Eastern-sounding instrument used on “Draw The Spleen Of Divinity” - the only real moment of timbral change on “Studs And Divinity”. This is an album, I’m sure, that will be mainly listened to as a document in its historical context. In that respect, this album might excite you just from its title and date. For others, there are some wonderfully eerie pieces on here, alongside tracks which have dated less well. Those interested in early, synth-heavy noise and industrial should find much here to digest.

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

Martin P
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