Visitation / Transgresia - S/T [Ominous Recordings - 2017]The self-titled split between Visitation and Transgresia came out on Ominous Recordings late December last year on a black c60 cassette tape. Visitation is the HNW project of Shaun Mara from Australia, who runs amazing labels such as Needle & Knife and Palinopsia - offering a veritable range of all things delicious noise. Transgresia is the relatively new and positively industrious project of Marko Šiljeg from Serbia - since birthing the project Marko has knocked out wall after wall like he's making up for lost time!
In spite of this frequency of productivity, the walls in question remain unsmirched and in no way give off any hint of being 'rushed'. Quite the opposite - both projects share a number of qualities but their seemingly 'slow' pace stands out for me as one that is uniquely identifiable quite early on in 'cross-listening'. With this said, the idea of cross-listening with these two particular projects doesn't immediately jump out at a listener, or at least for me, and so this is a valuable pairing on one release for the chance to delve into and discover their similarities and differences.
The cover artwork is an interesting collage of what appears to be black and white family portraiture - we're not given much further inclination as to whether there may be any special significance to this imagery and there is something both haunting and enticing about this anonymity.
The tape takes in two nearly quarter hour walls from each project. Visitation's hit us first on side A - there is a gruff and deep impact at once from 'Every Way Is Correct'. A perfectly granular textural barrage that doesn't have too much weight to it but still has a lot happening - the mind of the listener is led on a carefully directed zigzag through the tumultuous patterings until an immersion is approached. I have long been fascinated with the Visitation project since it emerged, there is something about the staunch and steady weight of the bass rumbling and the idiosyncratically granular textures that really affirms that the artist has spent a lot of time developing an 'ear' for walls, to the extent that they are able to exhibit a kind of personal flair within a genre that routinely makes it quite hard to do so for new artists or new projects. When the second track, 'Looks Like Leprosy' kicks in I feel like I've been thrown into a deep lake shackled to many lead weights. The wall itself is fairly similar to the first but darker, a deeper pitch that really gives the listener the impression of being 'swallowed up' - in this wall the movement of mid and high frequency textures really get the chance to claw at the listener. I can't help think of a giant lake with monstrously large and unknown crypto-mythological sealife whilst listening to this track and I have no idea why - the name certainly doesn't hint at this - there is just something so murky about it.
For side B we're hit first by Transgresia's "Other Various Kinds Of Lobotomy" - a brooding mass of bass rumble that writhes slathered beneath a shredding and clawing-root crackle that sounds deliciously organic. The rumble here is spot on, it is as though it tails the higher frequencies, with a distinct lack of most mids, the cavernous space between the two creating the sensation of extreme space for the listener. If the last Visitation track was really the soundtrack to slowly plummeting through an impossibly deep lake full of monstrous aquatic life, this track is the sound of having finally plummeted, resting peacefully at the bottom of the abyss. Listening I can't help feel how well this opening compliments the close of the first side and it's always nice to see this happening on HNW splits - where it is all too easy for some artists to just throw things together. Moving into the second track, 'Quiet Dissent', the wall is much airier. Mids return and with them a gale-like wind quality brings the listeners mind out of the murk and sludge of lake imagery and into a bitingly cold storm. Much like the previous wall, the muted rumbling tails the mids and highs like a lethargic slug, only now with less space between the two. This change of pace is quite interesting, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it even now, overall it seems to detract from my ability to fully immerse in this side of the tape, but this doesn't actually depreciate my overall reception of the release. Immersion is not everything for me, and the track does in fact serve to create a sense of 'journeying' which I really admire in wall releases - where releases are often mired in 'going nowhere'.
As of writing there is only one copy left for sale on the labels bandcamp so you'll have to move first if you wouldn't like to be acquiring a copy of this through a more roundabout route such as Discogs. It is truly a pleasure to see the stock of Ominous moving so quickly as it is well-deserved. Both projects brought their A-game to this release and this is a running theme across releases put out by the Swedish label.James Shearman