Gil Sansón: Ese Maldito Yo / El ocaso del pensamiento

Lengua De Lava cassette

I’ve written a couple of things here about the Lengua De Lava label out of Yucatan, Mexico, run by Gerardo Alejos Victoria and Enrique Rejón. With two releases under their belt so far (see my reviews of these here and here) the signs are that this will be an essential resource in the global network of underground music.

For their third release, Gerardo and Enrique have cast their net closer to home with these two slices of doomy ambience from Venezualan artist Gil Sansón. And it’s another keeper, two epic tracks, each coming in at just over 20 minutes, which cast a wintry chill over anyone who hears them.

Both tracks are steeped in a dark miasma, which recalls the doom metal drones of Ulver or Sunn 0))) as much as the dark ambient soundscapes of artists like Lustmord. The titles – taken from Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran– give you a clue about what to expect.

Ese Maldito Yo – in English That Damned I – is almost suffocatingly claustrophobic, its drones and noise somehow evoking a mood of extreme emotion repressed. It enacts a the process by which a violent disgust with the world is turned inwards and transformed almost into self-hate, a Freudian melancholia, a war against the self.

Sansón achieves this effect through an ingenious combination of recorded riffs, samples and noise. The unsettling blizzard of the opening riff is repeated three times, first at normal speed then at 45 and 78rpm, overlaid with various sinister rustlings and twitches. The effect is like a slow pilgrimage down some vast underground river, where the light is dim, and in the shadows unnameable horrors lurk. It is a journey that is also a voyage into the vast and chaotic unconscious.

For the second piece, Sansón switches to the wider world, and things aren’t any more cheerful here. The title translates as The Twilight of Thought, and here Sansón conjures up a grim vista of a fallen, corrupted world, a broken civilisation in which it is impossible or futile to search for any type of comfort or salvation.

Even when its initial ten-minute section of bare drones and noises – a cold camera eye panning across the ruins – is ruptured by a splattered burst of doom metal style guitars and drums – rather than rousing us from our despair, it’s like an air strike on an already battered city.

Sonically this is all rather wonderful. As the guitars and drums fade out, a new set of droning samples circles round, for a short time underpinned by an insistent tribal drumming, then subsumed by a sequence of abstract sounds and noise.

Towards the end, something unexpected happens. Field recordings, first of what sound like a small town or farm, then of a coastal region with birdcalls and waves, open up the piece and lighten the mood, even as the long, metallic hums continue to cast shadows. We have been given some glimpses of light, of humanity and the natural world in which we dwell. It is a world full of imperfections, but it is the best we have. Our job is to make the most of it.



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