Hidden Persuaders - The Bone Forest [A Giant Fern - 2014]Hidden Persuaders is one of numerous projects from the incredibly prolific Andreas Brandal. This cassette is the work of Leeds based label, A Giant Fern. The album was recorded at The Station, in Bergen, between April and August of 2014.
Opening track Dread Empire starts things off as Brandal means to go on. The opening of the track features what sounds like machine noise, before some incredibly raw sounding drums kick in with some fuzzed drone sounds followed by some pretty dungeon level vocals add to the grimy, sleazy cacophony of layers. The track remains quite sparse throughout, but works well at setting out their stall.
Nights Black Agents, starts with more machine noise, however this time were in much harsher territory. Once we get to around the minute and half mark in and the vocals kick in it turns into some resembling harsh noise. The ultra-distorted vocals are barely recognisable as such, and work more as an extra layer of noise.
Lost Hearts brings the intensity back down with some quite mellow, sparse sounding drums and a gentle droning synth line. After about a minute and a half things pick up again, as more layers of glitchy synth and pedal abuse are brought into play, before a final flourish takes us back into harsher noise wall territory.
First track on side two is Necromancer, using bomb like sounds interspersed between gentle synth drones and some harsh distorted noise.
God Beast is next, starting off with a sound like someone dragging a lump of metal along the street, it begins to build adding in layers of synth, by the time the dragging metal sound is over we are left with some interesting synth drone. More layers are added into the mix as the track progresses, what sounds like some bass guitar and some clanking of cymbals make brief appearances throughout, and a sinister drone gives it a creeping dread feel to the track.
Final track, The Bone Forest begins with more rattles and bangs, before things kick up a notch, with more samples and field recordings. All the while, the whole track is undercut by an incredibly sinister droned synth line. The clanking sounds are reminiscent of what one might hear in the background during a visit to the Sawyer slaughterhouse in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This represents my favourite track on the album, full of menace and yet still restrained.
The Bone Forest is a thoroughly enjoyable, clanky, glitchy, feast of harsh noise and dark ambience. It never seems to settle into one thing, and continues throughout its length to throw new ideas and sounds at the listener, challenging them with its brutal but measured aural assault. A fine release and one Brandal should be proud of.Darren Charles