Vampyres - Despondent Kingdom [Narcolepsia - 2018]Vampyres is a new(ish) project from renowned UK drone maker Lee Stokoe- whose been creating work under the banner of Culver since the mid 90’s. This new project sees Stokoe joined by Martyn James Reid( of Depletion)- and the sound on this C48 tape is somewhere between drone, murky dark-ambeince, and lo-fi choppy electro effect scaping
The Vampyres project started in 2017- and as the name suggests the theme to all the projects releases is French master of exotic & arty vampire films Jean Rollin. According to discogs Despondent Kingdom is the projects 7th release- it’s released on Narcolepsia. It came in an edition of 50 copies, with the pro-pressed chrome tapes, coming in a double sided pro cover- featuring purple, black, and white color scheme featuring stills( from Rollin films?) of women in pleasure & hang up side down naked.
Side A offers up two tracks- and first of these is "Scream Sacrifice", this four-minute thirty track is built around a constantly unfurling blend of doomy church organ sustain, muffled hiss, and bleak drone hover. It really feels akin to the sound of someone collapsing then expiring on a church organ- sure the track does kind of capture the dusty & crypt bound elements of Rollin’s films- but it just feels a bit bland & rather amateurish.
Next, we have "Heritage Of Blood", and this begins with a blend of distant organ fluctuations, a murky line of droning guitar work, and yet more tape hiss. Later on we get the addition of slurred spirals of blacked ambience coming off the muffled centre of the track, before more grimly spluttering ‘n’ droning elector textures come into play- these elements are quite effective in purveying a feeling of nearing timeless dread & evil- though once again the whole thing feels a little limp, muddled, and badly recorded.
Flipping over to side B we just have a single sidelong track- "Vestige Of Eternal Ruin". It opens out with a rather haphazard fading in blend of churning drone darkness, and piercing/ then drifting feedback trail- as the track progresses the droning darkness seems to deepen, with the feedback moving from crushed–to-hacking. I guess this track has a little more depth & worthy atmospheric spread about it, but once again there’s a layer of muffled hiss over the whole thing, which makes it feel like it was badly recorded/mastered. And on top on this, the track follows a rather bland & unimaginative curve of hacking, chugging, then droning.
Over the years I must have heard a good ten or so of Culver’s releases, and I was always impressed by the bleak & unsettling vibe the projects work prefaded. On top of this, it was always clear that Mr. Stokoe knew what he was doing in both conception, layering, and production of his work. So to be blunt, I’m not really sure what happened with this release- as it really feels amateurish & ham-fisted in its attempt in creating atmosphere, and this is topped off by the terrible production- sure I understand the advantage of necro hiss & muffle, but here it just sounds grating & sloppy.
When I saw that Stokoe had started a project based around the work of Jean Rollin- I had high, high hopes- so it really does pain me to say, that the Despondent Kingdom is not very good at all....Roger Batty