Amonism + The Revenant Sea: The Hidden
The December 2015 release date of The Hidden coincides with J&C Tapes's third anniversary yet also regrettably forms part of the label's final batch of tapes—regrettably because if The Hidden is representative of J&C Tapes's material, it's a shame there's only a few left in the pipeline. The two responsible for the recording are Amonism, otherwise known as cellist, composer, and sound designer Simon McCorry, and The Revenant Sea, musician and editor Matt Bower (aka Wizards Tell Lies). An acquaintanceship developed between the two when they were label-mates on First Fold Records, and subsequent e-mail exchanges grew into the idea of collaborating on a project. One need look no further than the cover image (by Craig Earp and Bower) for a perfect visual analogue to the unsettling sounds the partnership spawned.
With four tracks totalling forty-seven minutes, there's lots to dig into on The Hidden, and it takes no more than two minutes for “Blood Gull” to creep under one's skin. In simplest terms, the material's dark ambient of a deeply haunted sort, and in featuring McCorry's cello as a prominent element within the cryptic design the music takes on a classical-gothic character. In the typical setting, layers of cello phrases plaintively intone amidst dense, swirling masses of ethereal noise, the music playing like some macabre invocation of the spirits and the cello the means by which the portal might be breached. The gloom-laden “Broken Shallows” pulls the listener even deeper into the abyss, after which a black summit of sorts is reached on “There Are No Lullabies,” a seventeen-minute meditation that slows time to a crawl. Ostensibly a dronescape concerto for cello, the eerie piece sees the instrument drifting through a decaying graveyard where soft creaks and whistles fill the air and bodies are dragged towards their final destinations. In a late-inning surprise, piano playing surfaces during “Vulture Path,” with the clarity of the keyboard's voice imparting some modicum of sanity to the proceedings. Here's a tape that should come with a sticker stipulating that for best results its contents should be consumed under darkness and at an all-consuming volume.