- Close the curtains, light the black candles and draw a pentagon on the floor, Demdike Stare's last album has just arrived. That's probably an exaggeration, the new album from Miles Whittaker and Sean Canty, the third and final in a series of vinyl-only long players released this year, doesn't make as many explicit references to witchcraft and black magic as the duo's 2009 debut, Symbiosis. However, the same eerie, supernatural undercurrents, as well as a fascination with death, decay and well, the darker side of the human psyche, are all present and correct.
Opening track "Black Sun" sets the tone perfectly: featuring nothing more than a low end hum, it emits the occasional crackle to let the listener know that some kind of life form is controlling it. If "Black Sun" hints at the grey zone between our world and the supernatural, then "Hashshashin Chant" represents something more grisly as layered chanting and frenetic drums soundtrack the preparations for an assassination.
From there onwards, the tempo reverts to dead pace, but the mood remains the same. "Decay & Shadows" is full of wobbly bass and noisy FX, like the way the chitter-chatter of an approaching group of people reverberates across a walled yard, while "Rain & Shame" plays on the same idea, ambient noise building as half-heard voices mutter in the background.
Despite this love of found sounds and field recordings, there are some concession towards musicality: "Repository of Light," which starts with the same electric hum as "Black Sun," morphs into something approaching a downtempo melancholic techno track, its atmospheric chords making it sound like a ghostly cousin of "At Les." "Desert Ascetic" sees the duo try their hand at freeform jazz, with crashing drums and plinky plonk keys prevailing.
However, these are only temporary steps out of the (dis)comfort zone and Demdike Stare seem most comfortable when creating uneasy listening soundtracks like "A Tale of Sand" or the death-march dirge of "Viento de Levante." Like a baby with a sixth finger or a bearded lady, Demdike Stare are out on their own, a freakish curiosity for sure, but one that invites inquisitive ears and questioning listeners.
01. Black Sun
02. Hashshashin Chant
03. Repository of Light
04. Of Decay & Shadows
05. Rain & Shame
06. Desert Ascetic
07. Viento de Levante
08. Leptonic Matter
09. A Tale of Sand