So imagine if the Old Ones had woken from their uneasy slumbers beyond the stars and returned to Earth in…oh the early 1990s. But, instead of plotting to reassert their rightful place as overlords of humanity via cultic enslavement, they invented techno, and, too enchanted with their invention, gave up all attempts to wrest power from humanity, instead spending the intervening time wigging out to year-long raves in the world’s dark places. Truly that’s the the vibe of Trium Circulorum’s Silent Surveillance – a proper Cthulhu dance party, merging subterranean synths with rubbery bass loops and a crunchy kick drum pulse across three extended tracks – two of just over 10 minutes, the other nearly double that length – that have a dank, nightmarish quality even as they work themselves up into deranged gurning.
Silent Surveillance is out on Still Heat, one of a raft of interesting noise and drone labels from the northeast UK (Invisible City is another good one). It’s a relatively new operation, with currently just five releases to its name (UPDATE: they’ve just put out another one) – the debut, Carthage’s 9115 came out last October, and this is the fourth. They all explore a spooky and ritualistic mood, despite some stylistic variation – so the straight up Industrial fury of Carthage morphs into to the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired noise collages of Joseph Curwen’s The Temple, whose psychic-occult terror offers the perfect path into the glazed, alienated ambience of A Wake A Week’s Twelve Days. That latter tape is particularly affecting, library music created by the alien intelligence in Tarvosky’s Solaris, beamed through our desolate spaces with the specific intention of fucking with our poor human minds and memories.
A month or so ago, the label corralled a whole load of ritually-inspired gloom into a rather fetching compilation, Siendo Pesimo, a co-production with the fantastically-named Lugubrious Audio. This really plumbs the chasms of disturbing music: “The listener is cast as debauched Giallo-movie killer, as artists from both labels evoke a sonic Rome-Turin hybrid steeped in terror,” as they note on the Bandcamp page. It’s definitely worth grabbing if your tastes run in that complicated direction.
Faced with all that, you could argue that Silent Surveillance’s dubby, groaning judder is the most uncomplicated release on the label’s roster so far. Side A lays down a couple of tracks that are edging towards straight up bangers – Lustmord on Molly, yeah? – although the looming electronics and dark-ambient textures take some of the harder edges off. Room 101 is appropriately claustrophobic, with echoing synth chops giving its jerky percussive snaps an anxiety-inducing vibe. It never quite kicks off in the way that it promises, although its nerve-wracking hi-hat and kick drum skip keeps it teetering nicely on the edge of a techno abyss, where the subsonic bass chords boil and churn far below. Predictive Algorithm is even better, its moody stomp like Electribe 101 revisiting the site of their High-School prom on Halloween. It’s all about that bass, chunky and retro, wandering through its intervals in proper repetitive beats style and gradually turning into a squelchy acid reflux nightmare.
With the whole of side B to play with, Intercepted Data takes a while to get going, slowly working itself up into a shifting pattern of tones and whirs, its facets morphing too quickly to ever settle into a steady drone. No beats this time, instead there’s the feel of old-style computer music, but with its shining surfaces mottled with a patina of mold. It gets grittier as it goes on, with a growing machinic groan, although the airless atmosphere is the opposite of the forward grind on the other two cuts. Perhaps it’s more suited for the squid-lord chill-out room, a chance for the ancients to rest their weary tentacles and dream up new unholy horrors.