[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
UnicaZürn have crossed over, they now exist in a realm which is foreboding and dessicated. Much like the ground growing cold in fall and winter, Stephen Thrower and David Knight turn us away from warmly reassuring sunlight and plunge us into contemplation of what lies outside our doors and windows while the wild wind blows. When news of what they’ve done spreads further, I hope it inspires others who perform experimental material to up the bar. This pair certainly have.
The last time we heard from them, they’d crept out with the glorious “Propeller Guru” EP, but that release, unusual though it was cannot even compare to the dense, labyrinth of “Dark Earth Distillery”. Drones reverberate, slices of phasing move about like serpents in the water and, of course, Thrower’s clarinet appears on one of these works. It begs the question, just what does the title of this new album mean. Where are they going this time out? And why do they put out things in such a sporadic nature. I’d figured this project was dead and buried because of the incredible amount of information there is about them drifting about.
I can tell you what “Dark Earth Distillery” is to me. It is an ever-changing, constantly evolving nightmare of sound the likes of which I haven’t come across before. This album, like the vinyl it is pressed upon, clearly is the product of circumstances. What those were, I couldn’t say, however, I feel them whenever I play this. Like some vague notion of diabolical, saturnine misanthropy going on just beyond the reach of your senses, UnicaZürn demonstrate the pleasures which can come with complete abandon to the tendencies we’re admonished to suppress. It is the deadness of dark, moist soil churning under the direction of forces we simply cannot perceive.
Night falls, leaves rustle and beneath the clear, cold stars strings are pulled. A gentle breeze moves through the naked limbs of trees, the infernal kernel perceived…
When this release clicked with me, unsurprisingly, I was helping to plant a winter garden. As I uprooted the listless, lifeless plants of spring and summer a scent caught my attention. The thick, decadent smell of a thousand seasons come and gone beneath the unchanging, merciless sky. I had the epiphany that we merely move through our own scenes on this stage before taking a bow and rotting in what we churn with our meager, feeble hands… but what lies beneath our feet is the lifeblood of all which exists on this planet. Pity those who deny their limitations by choosing to ignore this, arrogantly assuming that which seems so humble is there for the taking without regard to how much longer it has been here.
Eons before man crawled out of the sea, well before the first mammalian ancestors cleaved their tongues and began to speak. There is a cycle which carries on whether we are here or not and it will continue to do so long after we’ve finished ourselves off. A distilling process, to be certain and by playing though this record, we’re given a glimpse of how low on the totem of evolution we truly are. The cover of what they’ve done is certainly accurate, humans casually glancing down at the overwhelming forces which so easily defeat industry’s petty affronts to it. Oh, you may have your moment but, this too, shall pass.