Liminal Haze is Invisible City Records boss Craig Johnson and Ross Scott-Buccleuch, creator of ‘frightful land shanties’ under the guise of Diurnal Burdens. ‘Volume I’ is, as the title suggests, their first tape as a duo. But it nestles perfectly into the glowering terrain characterizing the weirdo emanations from the north-east of the UK. And, while that distinctively oppressive vibe is present and correct here, Johnson and Scott-Buccleuch avoid the now-familiar gestures of their scene, pulling back from the crushing, monochrome layers that artists such as Culver handle so adeptly. Instead, they deploy a subtle combination of field recordings, tapes, electronics and even a prepared lap steel guitar to fashion something wholly their own.
Side A, comprising Parts I and II – nice naming conventions, by the way – opens with a brittle, three-note melody that navigates a hidden path between the morphing blobs of William Basinski’s ‘Nocturnes’ and the clank and chime of a classic Wu-Tang Kung-Fu intro. Disintegration from the slums of Shaolin, perhaps? Those antecedents fade quickly into the gloom, replaced by a creeping miasma of muted throbs and distant percussive crashes, its surging rumbles like the slow chugs of a death factory in the neighbouring village.
Parts III and IV, meanwhile, open things out a bit, with a looped, mesmeric ringing whose extended, malignant repetitions contain sufficient shamanic power to pump raw sewage direct into your third eye and demonstrate that the world behind the veil is indeed an empire of shit. A final sequence of grainy moans and degraded scuffle leaves things on a suitably discombobulating note, as if Johnson and Scott-Buccleuch had left their recorders running at the end of a session and inadvertently captured the gruesome whinges of centuries-old ghosts trapped in the wallpaper. Songs from under the floorboards, right?
All in, ‘Volume I’ is a cracking statement of intent, a toxic fog of greyscale pulsations that’s both intangible and hypnotic. Its grim vibrations seep like a cold gas into your bones and lull you into dulled acquiescence. Lovely.