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CD Feature/ Light of Shipwreck: "Through The Bilge Lies A Calm And Bloodless Sea"

img  Tobias
Who’d have thought that Ben Fleury-Steiner, whose Gears of Sand-releases always had such a graceful feeling of style, would ever dabble his feet into the frosty waters of metal? Always right at the pulse of current developments in experimental territory, Fleury-Steiner has apprently been infected with the Guitardrone-Virus, a contageous bacteria turning romantic souls into axe.weilding powermongers. And yet, “Through the bilge lies a calm and bloodless sea” is anything but a cheap “Me too!” exercise aimed at satisfying predefined genre-expectations.

Naturally, some of the ingredients which have turned Drone-Metal into one of the rising styles of the past year, can be found on this 21-minute track: Aggressive sheets of sound, confoundingly psychotic harmonics, energetic percussion and seemingly endless repetitions of key phrases until the intellect surrenders to the body, receiving each wave of reverb and smoothed-out feedback with painful anticipation.

In a sense, however, Light of Shipwreck is presenting us with a reinterpretation of these parameters from the darker corners of his dimly lit studio. “Through the Bilge” is like a retrograde sci-fi version of the genre, lending a “Spacetruckers in Space” twist to the often carefully polished surface of other protagonists. A steady robotoid metrum has taken over from the natural flow of a drummer, the crunch of electric guitars has been teleported into a parallel galaxy of adrenalised organ impulses and time has been warped to a moebius loop, which Fleury-Steiner is orbiting from the relative safety of his spaceship.

No doubt, his aesthetics are of an entirely different nature. While most of his colleagues are either approaching rock with a more inqusitive mindset or expanding the palette of the drone genre by adding additional streaks of colour and subtracting some of the usually intended opaqueness, Light of Shipwreck takes a more fundamental approach. The rhythm of the drums is the natural accompaniment to the pulsation of the prolonged tonal surfaces, the gushing fury of his textures matched by a blurred harmonic language achieved through extended techniques on guitars and metal wires.

It is not a fusion which results from these interactions, but a lively call-and-response scenario, a bicomponent entity like burning oil on water. It provides Fleury-Steiner with a lot of freedom in his decisions: “Through the Bilge...” opens with nervous dialogues, then flows into the “calm and bloodless sea” promised in its title, sailing through its whispering waves for the final thirteen minutes without compass.

Even though one is regularly reminded of it, this is by no means Metal, neither in its methods nor in its outcome. The music does not seem to regard darkness as a more seductive alternative to light, it merely treats it as a natural flipside, which needs to be explored to come to a full understanding of reality. Ben Fleury-Steiner may have dabbled his feet in frosty waters, but in its spacey fluency and borderless outreach, this EP comes with the same graceful feeling of style that has marked his previous releases.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Ben Fleury Steiner
Homepage: Waterscape Records

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