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Damien De Coene & Begonona - The absurdly misplaced and cruel optimism of motiv [Self Release - 2020]

Here we have a truly huge release from Flanders, Belgium based Damien De Coene. The digital download takes in thirty drone bound examples of walled noise- each lasting between forty five & forty eight minutes apiece, and accompany this are fifty photos taken by Begonona- jointly the pair hoped to create both an intimate and melancholic audiovisual work, and I can most certainly say they managed it & some.

Damien De Coene has been active in the scene since around 2017-releasing a mixture of textured noise, bleak drone noise, and walled noise. In total, he’s put out around twenty titles under his own name, though he also puts out work under the Charles Razeur banner- where he’s put out coming on for fifteen releases.

The release to hand was a self-release & can be downloaded here- it was released back in June of this year, and since then I’ve slow but surely worked my way through the whole thing- and I can certainly say two things, it’s damn bleak at points quite draining, and he's certainly managed to build thirty very minimally- yet subtle different & creative walls. I’ve not played the whole thing in one long block- due to time & sanity…not sure if anyone could manage twenty-plus hours of wall-craft, but instead played the whole thing over the last six of so months in a piecemeal fashion. So I’m not reviewing ever track here, but instead for readability I’ve selected a batch of tracks from through-out the set to talk about, which I hope to illustrate what we have here.

We open with the track “Tough Times don’t last. Tough people do”- this slides in at forty-six-minute mark and starts the set as it means to go on- very grim & low. We find a constantly lulling judder that ribbed & at points a little vigorous in its attack, around this we have fixed rush muffled grain. By track six we at the forty-six minutes of “your body is your most priceless possession. Look after it”- here we feel very much adrift in pure sonic bleak-ness, with a mix of locked gentle tumbling and rapid-yet subtle hiss.

By track ten we find the slightly more pressing through still numbing “Use your smile to change the world. Don't let the world change your smile”- this forty seven-minute & four-second track blends a more rapid & thumbed judder with rolling & droning hiss. By track fifteen “Good Things Will Come” we’ve dropped back into the numbing void once more- as the just over forty-six & a half minute track finds an extremely slurred churning, which seems to be in fixed & bleakly droning free fall- this is backed by a clipped & suffocating hiss. With track twenty one “The struggle you're in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow” we feel like we walking an hour or so after the bomb dropped & a haze of radioactive dust is falling around you, as De Coene blends distant lulling knocking 'n' rocking with muffled hissing descent. Moving towards the last few tracks, and track twenty-four “Push yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you” is forty-six & a half minutes of slurred eerie textured rumblings and compressed seared hissing. Track twenty-seven “Don't wait for the opportunity. Create it” amps up the tension somewhat- as we get just shy of forty-six & half minutes of keenly blended low end rubbing, and industrial drone bound hissing. With the final track number “BE the best version of you” pushes us once more swing over a grim & chilled abyss- with forty-six minutes & twenty-two seconds of murky drifting down a water trench bubbling & slightly seared hissing.

The fifty photos that come with the release are by Begonona, and these are close-up colour pictures of the same or similar flowering bush. These nicely highlight the subtle differences between the tracks, and the point out were natural beauty becomes numbing & twee in its repetition.

A lot of time, thought & effort has gone into making the bleakly nuanced tracks, selecting the perfect self-help quote for each of the tracks, and creating/ arranging the photos. A few artists have now tried their hand at the whole bleak droning wall noise thing- but I think it’s fair to say is that De Coene is the master of the form, as you clearly hear the bleak skill in his textures/ and their use, and all of his work is always effectively numbing and often hypnotic. It is a pity there is no physical release for this huge release- as it  would be great to see it as a boxset that will there for evermore- instead of just a selection of digital files, but I can understand the cost issues of such a venture. In finish with The absurdly misplaced and cruel optimism of motivational quotes, De Coene has certainly set a new bench mark in truly numbing sonic bleak-ness, forget doom & pitch black ambience this truly is sonic grimness bottled. To download your copy of the release, for an extremely reasonable 5 euro, head here

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

Roger Batty
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