When I posted a track as a Daily Tune (26th May) I said that this album had taken the top of my head off and stirred the contents. It’s still a fair summary. Beisel’s unique approach to the bass clarinet is beautifully brutal (an early for instance, the transition-without-pause between tracks #1 and 2 is a thrilling punch in the chest).
Confession time: alongside the guitar, the bass clarinet produces some of my favourite sounds (probably all goes back to Dolphy’s Out To Lunch) and now… thanks to this entrancing, enthralling, unafraid album, it turns out the bass clarinet’s range of sounds is just as broad.
Another small confession (are they really good for the soul?): I wasn’t familiar with Beisel’s work before this. Apparently they’re known for “extended instrumental techniques with heavy amplification and timbral effects”. Sounds like my cup of tea. And it’s those ‘timbral effects’ that push the clarinet to its tonal and sonic limits, at times sounding like a guitar feeding back, an overamped cello, a set of bagpipes, even a clarinet (though often seeming to lurk below the bass level).
To the ‘tunes’…
the indark answers with wind sounds like a howling gale in a confined space – rumbling, spinning, sighing, whether bubbling up from below or circling the drain to the underworld, it builds anxiety and atmosphere. And then there’s that switch to humid rush from unlit cavities, the sudden scraping buzz of the clarinet amplified and supplemented with doom-metal vocal groans, a slowly menacing draconic respiration, warm and threatening.
The drone continues in warm upon your skin, now underpinning somewhat mournful melody played with a fairly straight clarinet tone – I’m thinking of a Highland dirge; a lament? an elegy? a quiet defiance…?
As a sonic representation of a magnetised neutron star, within a pulsar flickers generates furious yet restricted energy – sheets of feeding-drone-back, jabbing bars of boxed-in sound, seeking exit or escape, searching for a penetrating frequency to unpick the lock, confined on all sides.
as a Jian-bird alone starts as a fluttering courtship dance (one Jian-bird hoping for another?) but as bubbling, shimmering sound crests and falls, a darker drone rises from the depths. A Jian-bird has one wing and one eye, reliant on finding a partner to fly but we don’t fly, love does not conquer all, and the track ends with the chthonic groan subsuming all else, leading into further incoherence, a treated voice as rough and ragged despair, dragged down as weirdly angelic chorus-cries fall around it.
Leaving behind a wrecked throat, of omohyoid and bone opts for resonance; brainfreeze tones threaten the trigeminal nerve with physical impact and the eyes unfocus. Erratic percussion is derived from amplified valves, and pointillistic markers dot a darkly-vibrating canvas, leading on to broader, bolder splashes, a sudden, brief pause and… outside the cone of future light chops sound into brisk, rhythmic chunks, the clarinet crying and roaring in the speech of some aquatic-equivalent extraterrestrial.
As we approach the end, sought, unknown focuses on the sonic details – a sense of mechanism descending, bathyscaphe-like, amidst slowly-increasing pressure, passing momentary sound-denizens as we sink-fall, some curious, some distant, all wondrous.
The closing and title track, a particle of organs, is a culmination of power. Energy fairly crackles and roars, buzzing and bursting, arcing above and below, great scything sheets of overamped reed and a black-velvet hum – spinning the dial, surfing sweet spots of deep resonance.
I think this could be a concept album but what exactly that concept is escapes me. And I have no idea what the title means. The cover image is both beautiful and diseased: are these the titular organs? Malformed alien flora… fauna? Whatever they are, they grow far from sunlight…
“A Particle of Organs” is heavy stuff, sounds retrieved from the deeper places – the underworlds, the lightless subterranea, the crushing ocean trenches. Beisel pokes around in the sonic depths and brings leviathans out to play. It’s a raw, abrasive, oppressive, and thrilling journey.
the indark answers with wind
humid rush from unlit cavities
warm upon your skin
within a pulsar flickers
as a Jian-bird alone
of omohyoid and bone
outside the cone of future light
a particle of organs
Emily Rach Beisel – bass clarinet, vocals, analogue effects, amplification
“Particle of Organs” is available from Emily Rach Beisel’s Bandcamp page in CD or download form.