October 15, 2013

Colloquial Sound Recordings: Dressed in Streams, A Pregnant Light, and This Station of Life

Written by Craig Hayes.

Damian Master is the proprietor of Grand Rapids, Michigan-based label Colloquial Sound Recordings, and under the moniker, Deathless Maranatha, he's also the sole member of avant-garde black metal band A Pregnant Light. Founded in 2011, Colloquial Sound deals, primarily, in black metal and blackened-punk cassettes, and the label has quickly established a dedicated following with excellent releases from the likes of A Pregnant Light, enigmatic one-man black metal outfit Dressed In Streams, and Aksumite and This Station Of Life (both of those band's also featuring Master in the ranks).

Colloquial Sound has recently joined the hordes on Bandcamp, and that's been a gift for fans (and potential devotees) because the label's releases have often been issued in limited physical quantities. Colloquial Sound has a fascinating roster of artists to explore, with the majority of the label's releases seeing waves of lo-fi black metal and/or crusty hardcore crashing into experimental tones and textures. Along with the aforementioned bands above, you'll also find groups such as Vestal Virgin, Obliti Devoravit and Gethsemane on Colloquial Sound's Bandcamp page, and all are well worth seeking out. However, from here on in, we're looking at A Pregnant Light and Dressed In Streams, because both have released some of the label's most fascinating sounds thus far.

Black metal band Dressed In Streams is notable for being wholeheartedly mysterious, extensively using Indian melodies and themes, and injecting plenty of psychedelia into its sound. The band has released a soul-scouring demo, a self-titled debut, The Search for Blood EP, and it has also featured on the superlative 70-minute Svn Okklt compilation of obscure and truly underground black metal

All of Dressed In Streams' releases so far have been ominous vistas where the other-worldly encounters the outer-limits of the cosmos. They're idiosyncratic, vicious, and replete with the shrouded sinkholes of guitars, and the band's latest release, DIS + Azad Hind, collects its debut, follow-up demo release, and "Deep Saffron"–the track featured on the Svn Okklt compilation.

DIS + Azad Hind's six songs are epic in length and deeply esoteric in nature, with atmospheric black metal meeting ascending kosmische synths, while abrasive guitars and sinister, trachea-destroying vocals battle for supremacy. Highlights include, "Leaping Tiger", with its raga beginning segueing into an aptly arcane churn, and scorched-earth opener "Sleeping Foxes", which features Bladerunner synth battling with frenzied and echoing tremolo challenges howled straight from the caverns (all of which careens towards some heinous nirvana).

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

A Pregnant Light offers something completely different to Dressed In Streams. While still a black metal band in theory– although, purple metal is how APL sees its hue–much like crust metal/punk act Raspberry Bulbs, it's a whole range of other elements that grants APL a distinct tang. Over the course of seven EPs and a trio of splits, APL has shifted from a lo-fi black metal band with a crusty and blast-beaten backbone, into one that draws from Goth, indie and post-punk realms too.

All of that means, APL sometimes sounds like the Cure jamming with Mayhem, and at other times, like Joy Division covering Striborg. Either way, APL crafts sublime work, and whether dwelling in a murderous and pitch-black climate, or rising on tides of more melodic, melancholic or triumphant tonalities, the band is ceaselessly engaging.

Highly recommended are APL's two most recent releases, the Stars Will Fall and Domination Harmony EPs. Both feature a more anthemic and accessible tone than the band's earlier work. However, don't let that stop you traveling back through APL's catalogue to releases such as St. Emaciation or Death My Hanging Doorway. All of APL's work–from the angriest tirades to the most seraphic ascents–bristles with raw poetic energy, and moments of jaw-dropping creativity.

APL and Dressed In Streams are both avowedly intense bands, but their nerve-shredding build-ups often give way to passages where all that dark reverb and feedback dissolves into icy contemplative scenes. Both band's are channelling their respective voices through the perfect sonic vents. Whether loud, quiet, cryptic, glistening or downright fifthly, APL and Dressed In Streams' ooze imagination in volumes, and at volume.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

PS) Hi there, Max here. Craig said it was OK to use this PS to draw your attention to This Station of Life; now that we're moving through Colloquial Sound Recordings territory. Last years "full length" (7 songs, 15 minutes) Plastic Fire is raw black metal. A very lo-fi production and the pvnkish assaults goes hand in calloused hand with eerie melodies, and the catchy ("My Hunger"), and even triumphant ("Pick") riffs. Nothing progressive or atmospheric here, this is inner city black metal.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. Damn! Indian stuff. Any idea whether they are actually from India or some place else?

    1. Metal Archives lists them as from the US, and with these lyrical themes "Free India Legion, Freedom from colonization" So some relation to India surely, but I just don't know.