Charles Razeur - Sans Valeur [Altar Of Waste - 2018]Sans Valeur is an extremely lengthy & totally unrelenting submersion in ultra stark, wholly empty, and abyss-like drone matter- which sits somewhere between husk-like ambience & drone based wall noise. Here on Altar of Waste, we have a CDR release- taking in 75 minutes of terminal sonic stark-ness- it extends an original two-track forty minute digital release to new heights of crushing oppressive-ness.
Unlike a lot of Altar Of Waste releases this doesn’t come in a clear DVD case, but instead it takes in a very stark black & white folded card cover- this features crude & grim line drawings of what look like a naked male figure covered with black bags over their heads (a Vomir nod?), and bent forward faces covered in lank hair. Other than this you get a crossed-out unreadable logo, and basic track listings….so really this packaging is a perfect fit for what awaits us with-in the CDR.
Charles Razeur is the Flanders, Belgium based project, of one Damien De Coene. The projects been active since late 2017. So far releasing around fifteen releases both digital & physical. I’d been aware of the name for a little while, but it wasn’t until a few weeks back that I heard a split CDR with Vomir- and I must say I was very much taken by uber bleak drone path of the projects track on the split- it rather brought to mind early Cory Strand project Lethe, but with it’s own grim flavour. So when this release appeared in a recent review batch of AOW titles, I was most keen to check it out.
The CDR takes in four Roman numeral named tracks, and each of these runs between twelve & twenty-four minutes. So opening the release we have "I"- and after a short sample of a gentleman speaking foreign dialogue ( possible into Norwegian or Swedish)- we’re into the ‘bleakness’. This first track comes in just over the twenty-one-minute mark, and features a fairly low-yet rapidly moving drone-this is flecked with occasional juddering sub-tones & micro pops. To my ears it sounds akin to the sound one might hear deep underground- maybe in a disused tube station, that runs fairly near an active line- though instead of fading & growing drone- this just bleakly drills on & on, meaning you have either let your self-fall into its grim lulling grind, or go slightly mad…it’s as simple as that, there really is no middle ground with this type of drone work- as there is zero melody, harmony, or pattern to lock onto here…this just literally staring into the abyss in sonic form. And I must say I really enjoyed the track, and it really (semi) prepares you for the rest of the release.
"II" once again opens with another non-English dialogue sample- this time it sounds finds a slightly more ponderous French(I think) gentleman talking over a backdrop of distant bird chatter. The sample this time goes on a little longer, and while I’m unsure what’s been said it makes as a nice contrast of humanity between the long slabs of bleakness. At around the fourth minute, the drones begin- and this time the atmosphere feels more pressing & focally brooding in it’s intent- with a central muffled bass bound drone- and this is edged by a more rapid almost agitated flame like rumble. There is a bit of movement in both elements- though it’s nothing vast, and really they just generally rage & rattles against each other. To me this track brought to mind a fairly speedy descent down through the dark & changeless water, and seemingly the bottom is never found (well the track ends, but you know what I mean).
Next, we, of course, have "III" & "IV", and these are the two new tracks here that didn’t appear on the original digital release. The first track finds a roughshod slightly swaying aquatic back drone, fed alongside a more rapid sub-tone bleak bubble like rush. I really like the way the back drone seems to suddenly sway right into ones head in a most an effective skin tingling & unsettling manner- as if you're in a barely lit driving bell, and you keep seeing hints of bulbous shadowy shapes passing by you. The final track really finds us literally on the edge of a yawning & endless abyss- as De Coene takes a stretched & slightly shadowy rolling distant drone, and adds on very subtle sub-tone pops from time-to-time. It really is the audio equivalent of trying to see some shapes, light, or movement in total & complete darkness…and really finding none. I really like the mysterious almost churning quality of this track, and though there are clearly no percussive elements present, the whole thing had quite a ritualistic vibe about it.
It really does take real skill to create stark drone work- that’s engaging, creative, and varied- and that’s exactly what we’ve got with Sans Valeur. Unfortunately as this was released in a fairly minimal pressing of just ten copies- the CDR has now sold out with AOW…meaning that the only way to hear it is via the projects band camp, and of course, that’s in its original two track from. Let us hope they’ll be another full physical or digital release of this, as I really think the two extra tracks add new depths of bleakness to the release, and of course, show more of De Coene talent at creating truly stark, yet oddly engaging drone craft.Roger Batty