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[Review: Rambutan + Parashi, ‘Lesser Halogens’]

Here we have two of Albany’s finest, Rambutan and Parashi, teaming up for their first collaborative release via Frankfurt-based Sicsic Tapes. The title of the tape, Lesser Halogens, evokes images of half-dead blackened lamps barely illuminating the decaying space surrounding them. The tape builds on this theme conjuring up a bleak world shrouded in darkness, dim lights flickering over foreign objects and alien faces. Gone are the warm friendly tones found on Rambutan’s more recent releases, like his split with Tidal on Aguirre or his Typhoon Shapes cassette on cae-sur-a. Instead we are presented with a cold electronic hum that underpins most of the tracks with searing squelches of electronics cutting through the noise to rupture any sign of stillness.

The A-side keeps things dark slow-moving, allowing you to relish the noise as it envelops you. On “Halogen 1” large sluggish masses of distortion roll in over the underlying din. Giant sonic shapes drift over otherwise vacant landscapes, eventually slamming into each other. Sounds moan and contort as they crash together, their echoes calling attention to the vast expanses they roam.

“Halogen 2” opts for electronics that swarm around in a chattering and buzzing manner. This is the sound of chlorine being heated slowly so it reacts with whatever else is in the tube. Piercing noises emerge from the drone as the track gains energy. By the end the chlorine eats through its container and the escaped gas spills out chewing through the organic material around it with an increasing intensity.

Things slow down on “Halogen 3,” which drops to a slow eerie crawl. Digital ghosts float through a cold sterile world entirely alienated from any human presence. Electricity pulses in its quiet atmosphere, cracking and hissing as it moves through its circuitry.

The B-side picks up some, with each of its two tracks containing something of a beat. “Halogens 4” has a listless pulse buried behind an atmosphere full of dread, and couldn’t sound more like your heart as you hide in some cramped space waiting for some inevitable doom. The slow thump fills the space echoing louder than you would like, a turncoat calling out to the terror that is slowly sliding toward you.

The highlight of the album is the last track “Halogen 5,” also the cassette’s longest track, clocking in at 15 minutes. It is also the most upbeat and it rushes to an amazing climax that finishes off the tape in perfect fashion. At first though, the track starts with almost nothing. A synth, or a sample, and then silence. From there a cry calls out to you from somewhere off in the distance. Bursts of static gradually surround you. Slowly rhythm is added and you can even hear something like drums. Finally, a slow but steady rise in the tempo. Midway through the track the drone turns into a blur with a stream of incomprehensible things rushing past you. A myriad of small samples flit by for you to try to pick through. The drums begin to pound at a pace you could dance to, if it didn’t sound like you were in the middle of a war zone. Synths scream out to you, heightening the tension. Then, abruptly, at its peak, it fades away to nothing. All the energy is spent, the burst at the end destroys itself.

Rambutan, who runs the Tape Drift label, and Parashi, who runs the Skell LLC label, do an amazing job at dragging you into such a desolate world and holding you there captivated by the dark atmosphere while not letting you get tired of what could serve as bland source material in less capable hands. One hopes that this is the first of many collaborative recordings between these two Albany mainstays.

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 by Andrew White