If collaboration gives artists the chance to achieve synergy though synthesis, a decent split release offers different pleasures – usually coordination (through providing variations on a theme or style) or juxtaposition (putting different styles or approaches in close proximity, which often prompts us to listen to them in a new way).
This split between Mori Lucrum and Jack Chuter’s Upward skews to the former, with contrasting sets of longform drone-oriented sounds demonstrating the sonic versatility of the genre and its potential to communicate heightened emotional states.
Mori Lucrum’s cuts are masterclasses in nerve-ridden anxiety, their grinding frequencies crawling and shifting like unknown shapes looming out from the shadows. ‘Timeline’ renders these horrors in thick, tarry impasto, an advancing sludge whose mollusc pace is nevertheless impossible to outrun. It’s a scene from a recurring nightmare, alright, yet a final sudden uplift offers the possibility of redemption, the whirl into a higher register akin to a sudden, unexpected escape (or perhaps absorption?).
Its companion, ‘Seven Wardens’ widens the dynamic range, with tumultuous synth whooshes swirling over a subsonic low-end and a groovily apocalyptic phase driving home the message that yes, this might well be the universe collapsing in on itself right here. Right on cue, singularity arrives in a cathartic rush, the slo-mo tempest playing out in a never-ending cascade of destruction whose duration is a single, eternal millisecond.
The universe may be gone but Jack Chuter is gonna do his damndest to will it back into existence. His three tracks as Upward are wrecked howls from an abyss outside time, spells fashioned from crushing walls of fuzz, throbbing bass synths and Chuter’s own wordless vocal groans and spoken word interventions.
It’s strong stuff, for sure, Chuter’s intensity adding tonal subtlety and dynamism to the classic drone-metal playbook. ‘Approximate’ throbs and buzzes like an orchard of malfunctioning electric pylons, as a lonely mammoth hollers laments to a coal-black sky. ‘Anxious’ sounds even more pained, Chuter wrapping barbed wire round his larynx and screaming like he’s about to barf up most of his internal organs. His guitar, meanwhile, is stuck in electric-toothbrush-from-hell mode, its wrecked powerchords inducing heavy voltage trauma to all onlookers. Shock treatment, no lie.