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Bestattungsinstitut - Glandular Formations (1988-1990) [Verlag System - 2020]

Catching the attention of Miguel Ruiz (Orfeˇn Gagarin, Toracic) in 1987, northern German Siegmar Fricke's Bestattungsinstitut project sparked a friendship, collaboration, and experimental music exchange that lasted for quite a long time. Fricke's solo work on Glandular Formations is gloomy and evocative, and as grim as the name would suggest (translates to something like "funeral parlor"). Thankfully not lost to the ravages of time, Verlag presents this collection of tracks on two limited color vinyl pressings, making Bestattungsinstitut available to a world eager for grim sounds to match their grim environment.

Culled from seven tapes recorded from 1989-1990, Glandular Formations flows remarkably - enough that one would think it was all one composition. Like a recording of the inner workings of a primitive cyborg, "Antatomical Specimens" opens the collection with a revealing look at the interaction between man and machine. Organs groan and shift with a low, subtle intensity while the mechanically produced rhythms rest in the higher tones. This introduction to  Bestattungsinstitut gives a very introspective element before opening it up into grim soundscapes. The next few selections ("Tape 2A," "Storing Embalmed Corpses," and "Martyrium") showcase menacing, heavy soundscapes that turn the focus toward the machine. Bleak and grim, with a nice amount of grime, these songs showcase the darker element of the industrial revolution through evocative layers. "Dr. Robert Runci" is the turning point of the collection, and this softer, looped daydream provides an unexpected respite from the oppressive sounds contained on either side. Somewhat relaxing, this one draws the listener into a false sense of safety before continuing onto the second half. The remaining songs bring the bleakness back, but instead of Earthbound, industrial soundscapes, they set loftier aims and pull back all restraints. While on the surface, these could be tales of interstellar trips, one could also see these as focusing even further inward into the galaxy within. Either focus works (and maybe take an alternate view with each successive listen), and Bestattungsinstitut continues to impress.

Well crafted and wonderfully bleak, Bestattungsinstitut's Glandular Formations shows an experimental soundscape artist at a much more pure time. No internet influences and just his own mind to play off of, Siegmar Fricke expressed himself fully and with excellent results. This compilation from Verlag System allows the entire world to get on board with his compositions and fully immerse themselves in his bleak visions.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Paul Casey
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