Hypertension Records concludes their The Abyss Stares Back series with the fifth and final release featuring a unique collaboration between Scott Kelly (Neurosis), Mathieu Vandekerckhove (Syndrome/Amenra) and Colin H Van Eeckhout (Amenra/CHVE). Although the previous four albums were proper splits (including bands like Hessian, Primitive Man and Nihill), this album is introduced as one 20-minute representation of brilliant minds coming together to create a composition rooted in both absence and presence. Thus ultimately calling themselves and their work, Absent In Body.
Various volumes of outer-body ambiance initially meet the ears at the start of the journey as distorted confusion and paranormal sirens begin to rise from behind it. The anticipation grows as one ponders when the presence will appear amidst the absence and when the first coming hits, it’s quite subtle. Drums begin to crawl, alongside the wailing riffs, into the shadowy atmosphere and gradually seep to the forefront. Echoes of gurgling growls and layered playbacks of warped chaos add to the cold aesthetic but it’s not long before absence makes its return due to a sudden signal loss.
The beautiful extended cinematic ambience continues to reign and invokes a gloomy calmness until the second coming jolts the being, nearly rupturing the eardrum. The significance in this is questionable because it essentially takes the listener out of the experience and into a confused state, wondering if their headphones just kicked the bucket. Nevertheless, sense can eventually be made amongst the chaos and immense static padding the epic shouts.
Eventually, each layer of ambiance and distortion are peeled away as the conclusion of the 20-minute track relies on static alone. Left with curiosity for more from such a unique collaborative effort of elites, one might find themselves hitting the replay button. And despite the sudden jump in decibels mid-track potentially throwing off a listener or 2, Absent In Body has laid down a framework of high potential and one would hope that this collaboration continues into a full-length release.