[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
When dealing with material such as this, the goal is to let it sink in until you begin to see what the impetus for creating it was. Following up their last album was no doubt a daunting task and yet David Knight and Stephen Thrower have risen to meet this challenge magnificently. UnicaZurn have through the course of their eight years demonstrated time and time again that they are the progenitors of a style I’ve chosen to call ‘environmental experimentalism’. Now, this term does not mean you need to get your protest signs and head into the streets, rather it is indicative of an ability to transpose the location and situation of where they wrote onto their releases. From there, it is up to you to immerse yourself in it enough to allow their surroundings become your own. A rather significant development in the underground, I’d say.
Side one is comprised of just a single composition called “Extract of Eternal Conumbra” and is the sound of spring. Throughout it’s run time of over half an hour we’re given glimpses of deserted meadows, quiet ponds and dense forests all at rest while the sun bears down and new life explodes out of the ground. I swear I can hear the birds calling from their well-concealed homes; a lilting breeze blows across one’s face and the scent of pollen hangs heavily in the air. In addition to these features is the fact that this piece plays out with exceptional brevity. It all ends far quicker than I’d have liked it to which leads me to suspect that there is a longer, more in-depth version of this floating around somewhere in their archives. I cannot imagine where this track would wind up if given a couple hours to develop.
That right there is the summation of how UnicaZurn manage to distinguish themselves from the myriad of others who operate in the drone and ambient fields: their music keeps mutating the entire time it is being played. They do not establish a few layers of noise and then sprinkle in random whirs and clicks to hold your attention, this pair methodically alter the bandwidth by whim. Tell me that isn’t courageous. What gets me is how much their work has changed when you consider how little they have out. Something which remains constant, however, is the involvement of Danielle Dax. She’s designed the cover art whereas previously she’d contributed vocals, it begs the question people like me keep asking: how much longer until you put out something of your own again.
Side two contains another spring-time ode to solitude entitled “Heliomantra” which while shorter in length most definitely goes even deeper and shows you all manner of splendorous oddities. Some would say they’ve dipped their toes into the world of ritual music but if you’ve heard ‘Propeller Guru’ then you’ll know that this isn’t the first time they’ve gotten a bit spacey; unlike the aforementioned guru, this isn’t the space above us or below us but within us. It is impossible not to reflect when you hear it which may not even be the point, there are just so many unknown variables in what they create.
“Phosphor AKS” concludes this broadcast and unlike the other two tracks found here it definitely was made with ‘Dark Earth Distillery’ in mind and could well have been something they were working on when it was released that had no other place to go. It has a haunting sense of foreboding to it and bridges the gaps, allowing ‘Ωmegapavilion’ to be joined with their other works seamlessly; yet again I have to wonder if everything they’ve done isn’t all just one massive piece which once completed they will issue as a stand-alone set to be heard from start to finish without any interruptions.
They have given us a most engaging study here: the wilds one’s own mind contains bound up in magnetic tape. Just press play.