- Davis Psutka's music has been getting more ambitious over the years, conveying a mood somewhere between euphoria and apocalypse. On his first album as Ceramic TL, those epic visions shed the restrictive skin of genre. Nods to bass music and techno (as Egyptrixx) or synth-pop (as part of Hiawatha) are gone, leaving behind huge sheets of sound and grandiose themes.
Sign Of The Cross Every Mile To The Border addresses "environmental cataclysm," and judging by the opening title ("I Attached To And Pored Over Photos Of Places I Loved That Were Reduced To Ash"), in Psutka's world the disaster has already happened. The track is one merciless synth drone, harsh like the glare of a bloated sun through a shredded ozone layer. The others are similar—grand, grim synth compositions that sound like how the surface of the Earth might look after the temperature has skyrocketed and tsunamis and firestorms have swept it clean. Psutka's search for poetry in bleakness calls to mind Cormac McCarthy. There's certainly something North American about the music's huge expanses.
Beyond that, its closest cousins might be doom or drone metal, styles that slow things down to convey a sense of massive scale. The resemblance is strongest on "Life On Earth," a foul sludge rich with blistering high partials and veins of feedback. As with Sunn O))), the effect is both terrifying and meditative. Psutka's music also makes Sunn-like demands on your patience. He is, after all, working on an ecological time scale.
He does a good job of staving off monotony. Sometimes he marks time with sour metallic sounds that toll like miscast bells. Elsewhere he sprinkles in bright, particulate synth textures. On "This Looks Just Like It, The Answer to My Prayers - I Thought My Life Was Over Until Two Years Later I Arrived," they supply a gorgeous moment of contrast. "Clearing" sets similar turbulent sounds over distant chords in what appears to be a melancholy closer. That is, until it's all swept away by a minute of panicked sirens. It's an unsettling reminder that, in our world, the catastrophe's not over—it's about to begin.
01. I Attached To And Pored Over Photos Of Places I Loved That Were Reduced To Ash
02. Sign Of The Cross Every Mile To The Border
03. Life On Earth
04. I Often Wondered How The Group Would React When Eco-Apocalypse Finally Struck
05. This Looks Just Like It, The Answer To My Prayers - I Thought My Life Was Over Until Two Years Later I Arrived
06. Our Leverage Is Weak There Are Things We Can Do