Formication: Icons for a New Religion
Lumberton Trading Company

Macabre storytellers Alec Bowman and Kingsley Ravenscroft emerge from the UK lab for another trippy excursion to the underworld in their latest Formication opus. On Icons for a New Religion, the group's first non-self-released work and issued, appropriately enough, by the Lumberton Trading Company (Twin Peaks anyone?), the sonic alchemists arrange eleven tracks into a sprawling, industrial-electronic narrative. The predictably cryptic text concerns the rebirth of a civilization after its return from the “terrifying edge of eternity,” followed by subsequent collapse and destruction—suffice it to say, not a parent's first pick for a child's bed-time story (a sample from the back cover: “Those who survived carried their children into a hopeless time and laboured over the wreckage of their former glories and failed in every attempt to rebuild what was lost. Powers rose and fell and great wars and bloodshed and anger became the way of the world and over the generations the knowledge that those explorers wrought faded into lore and legend until eventually it even left their dreams.”).

Phantom voices moan, electronic rhythms churn, and textures build into dense blurry masses during the seventy-minute journey. The album opens in epic style with “Arise or Originate,” a fourteen-minute, lumbering broil of backward voices, writhing howls, and tribal patterns. At some junctures, the travelogue's intense (consider the propulsive beats and acidy synthesizer snarl that churn during the eleven-minute “The Void”), but there are restful moments too (the comparatively becalmed “Minute”). The most arresting piece is “Faces of Fire (The Frictionless Continuum)” where Formication weaves brightly swirling lattices of harp plucks into an hypnotic, dance-like sway.

Think of what a Genesis P-Orridge-less Throbbing Gristle might sound like and you'll have some idea of Formication's hallucinatory style (strangely enough, one part of the sleeve's text even could be a reference to the recently-resurrected TG: “No one expected their return, yet here they stood again, older and more full of ancient knowledge than any had thought imaginable.”). If that's not evocative enough, imagine Icons for a New Religion as equivalent to staying awake for a chemically-induced three days and then getting lost, alone, in a pitch black, noise-infested forest at three in the morning.

July 2007