Jagath - Devalaya [Cold Spring - 2020]
Jagath are the latest dark industrialists to sign and release music through Cold Spring records. The label has become synonymous with some of the most interesting and innovative musicians to have sprung from the darkest recesses of contemporary music, equally at home with drone, neo-folk, raw black metal, industrial or power electronics, Cold Spring have released some obscure underground classics over the last 32 years.
Released in December 2020 Devalaya is an album of ritual electronic drone hailing from Russia, recorded in abandoned industrial locations, and inside huge hollow oil tanks to give the album an authentic sense of post-industrial decay. The album is the perfect accompaniment to Nicholas Royle’s Antwerp, a novel that likewise shows a fascination for the post-industrial decay that can be found in parts of our modern cities.
"Agadha (Abyss)" is the album’s opening foray into dark ambient territory. It’s a seriously creepy atmospheric track, dripping with skin-crawling found sounds and weird electronic noises that would provide a wonderful soundtrack to any self-respecting horror movie. At over 11 minutes long its slow evolution works beautifully as the track builds in intensity without ever losing its sinister ritualistic vibes. "Uthana (Rise)" follows in a similar vein, albeit with more ritualistic vocal chants and greater intensity. Equally creepy, it sets a bit of a theme for the album, one of weird urban ritualistic post-industrial audio. The third track "Catu (Conversation)" takes things to another level of creepiness, a long (11 minute) slow burn that would leave some folks reeling, it makes great use of the space in and around the echoing clanks of metal that punctuate ambient drones that make up the song’s structure. On first listen this feels like the album’s centrepiece, a masterclass in less is more, however, the title track "Devalaya (Temple)" takes that up a notch and at over 14 minutes really does take on the mantle of the album’s centrepiece. It sounds like it belongs on the soundtrack to Kill List and to be honest as wonderful and creepy as Jim Williams’ soundtrack is, this is a step up from that. The album closes with "Nila (Darkness)", one of the shorter tracks on the album at a mere 9 minutes and 38 seconds long, and it continues to do what the rest of the album has done, creating atmospheric, ritual infused industrial electronica that is guaranteed to terrify those of a nervous disposition.
The ritualistic chants that permeate the ambient drones and metal clanks remind me somewhat of tantric throat singing legends Phurpa, whilst one can’t help but feel that as well as the obvious musical influences of drone, industrial and found sound they are drawing heavy influence from the post-industrial landscape of their homeland as well as the films and literature of what many are calling the urban wyrd. However you look at it, it’s an excellent, creepy, sinister slab of ambient, industrial drone that will live in my CD player for many weeks to come.Darren Charles