Saturday, December 21, 2013

Northumbria - All Days Begin As Night

Written by Craig Hayes.

The best drone combines vast mantric movements with profound sonic depths, and back in 2012, Toronto-based duo Northumbria released a self-titled debut that exhibited both those qualities in spades. Northumbria featured uber-amplified bass and guitar improvisations recorded in the interior of a 19th century church, and the album was a gothic wonderland of sanctified and distorted drone with post-rock flickers bringing a shroud of heartbreaking ambience.

Formed in 2011, by Jim Field and Dorian Williamson, Northumbria offers a glimpse of the eternal. The superficiality of modernity is left far in the background as Northumbria taps into the universal with its lengthy slow-motion experimental metal pilgrimages. And the band weaves textural tapestries while diving deep into the realms of consciousness, to sculpt beautiful, unnerving, and heavy mediations.

On Halloween this year, Northumbria returned with All Days Begin As Night. The release features one new track from the band, and additional remixes of tracks from its debut courtesy of like-minded sonic explorers. Released by Minneapolis-based label Altar Of Waste, Northumbria’s contribution to All Days Begin As Night consists of the title track, which finds the metaphysical echo and haunting resonance of the band’s drone continuing with powerful effect.

Elsewhere, electronic adventurer Famine takes the cavernous thrum of Northumbria’s “Threnody” and injects the lurch and scrapes of IDM – reworking the track into glitch-fed form. Witxes’ adds a warmer layer of treatments onto “Black Sea of Trees”; albeit with that warmth viewed through fractured glass, and splintering fragments of noise. Acclaimed noise-butcherer Theologian takes Northumbria’s “Lux Lunae” and reshapes and renames it, producing the grim and spine-chilling trawl of “The Sanguine Moon”. While Nadja’s Adian Baker takes the core minimalism of “Lux Lunae” and lets cloudbursts of crystalline sound arise from his remix.

Much like Earth’s Legacy Of Dissolution album – which saw the progenitor of ambient metal remixed by Mogwai, Autechre, and others – All Days Begin As Night sees plenty of inspiration mined from the ur-vibrations of drone. The album also contains an additional track, “The Eternal Murk (All Days Begin as Night)”, that’s only available by purchasing the CDR release, but the Bandcamp issue alone provides plenty of diverse reinterpretations and reassembling of Northumbria’s sound. Each artist leaves their distinctive mark on their respective tracks, yet a consistent theme emerges as the infinite search for meaning through sound manipulation connects at the elemental and cellular-rattling level.

All up, All Days Begin As Night is a fantastic piece of work, where the combinations of bruising drone and audio delirium make for superb dives into the fathomless depths of avant-metal and electronic chaos.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2013, avant-garde, Craig Hayes, drone, Northumbria
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