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Review of Clew Of Theseus “Oran” 2xCS (Standard Edition)

5 January 2011 1,584 views No Comment

From Andrew McIntosh, posted on the Noise Fanatics board:

Clew Of Theseus, Oran, double cassette, Cathartic Process

My first proper introduction to this project, my interest being piqued when learning of the concept. Oran is the town named in Camus’s “The Plague”, a good, solid, borgiouse little beach burg that becomes isolated from the rest of the world due to the return of the Black Death. Conceptually, COT is raising the spectre of this imaginary town with his own impressions of the city of Pheonix in the US. Attempting to give the impression of both urban decay and commercial renewal, the old community giving way to exciting new shopping opportunities.

COT uses a variety of acoustic sources – piano, metal, voice, harmonica, bells – and electronics such as oscillators and electric guitars, which right away links the work here to a more electro-acoustic tradition. The treatments given are excessive but carefully chosen; huge echoes create a dark sense of sparseness and overwhelming oppression: track three of side one, with it’s black, rhythmic pulsing and background scraping, is an almost classic Darkwave/Industrial piece. Tracks involving the heavy use of guitar (such as the second and third tracks on side two) are nicely dirty in sound: the additional sound sources used well to create convincing and satisfying aural imagery. Side three has quieter and more sinister use of drones and strums that evolve into pure darkness, while side four brings a much louder and harder thickness of drones, delayed loops and hissing distortion. Scrapes, moans, and of course drones are extracted from the equipment used and while there’s a tendency to overdo the effects and studio trickery the results are competant and worth the effort. The overall impression is just as it was intended: an open-wounded view of unsettlment, grim resignation and, very much, despair. For myself, I didn’t picture the town of Oran to be quite as dark, but this is a different impression that makes me think less of Camus’s book and more of COT’s personal offering of seeming disgust at a modernity that can’t be stopped. The sounds are almost cries of pain and hatred, like huge, empty, ruined buildings given voice. The point is, this is a very succesful album, both in expressing the intended concept and in being a damn fine release to listen to and take in. Dark, droning, slow building sounds that are as much electro-accoustic sound-sculptures as they are Noise pieces.

Incidentally, I’m listening to the more budget edition, sans photo book and lathe cut extra album.

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