Otherwise known as CEKE for obvious reasons, Ambient art-collective Common Eider, King Eider has been prolific this year, with new album A Wound Of Earth (Cloister Recordings) following its predecessor A Wound Of Body (Cyclic Law / Sentient Ruin Laboratories) by a mere two months. This latest effort houses four tracks of dark, spectral noise that unsettles the mind.
The zephyr-like beginning of ‘A Wound of Body 2’ is almost indistinguishable against the rumbling of the bus home, but as eerie and mournful strings begin to build-in volume, blending with ghostly changes in the atmosphere, the Drone-like sound begins to hypnotise until angst-ridden squeals obliterate the slumber, undercut with dry vocal scours which rip apart the soul without one flicker in pace.
Despite a lack of clanging metal, there is a cold, Industrial element to the sharpness of the violins and swirling undercurrents. Arctic blasts evoking the band’s Alaskan homeland sweep through the haunting yet sparse, edgy melodies of ‘A Mouth Of Ash’, a subtle drum in the background almost unnoticeable among the aural equivalent of Harry Potter’s demonic Dementors, perfectly embodying the track’s title.
It’s a drifting yet moving experience which eases deeply, gently into the ensuing ‘Starless Sky Turned Sanguine (A Hymn To Feral Spirits)’. Initially, this is anything but: the first minutes filled with a near-silent thrum and the odd twinkling of lights. It’s nearly four minutes before a discordant resonance, like a violent blurring of vision, announces the presence then returns to dumb protest. As the pounding swells grow the tension becomes palpable until it seems as if we’re watching the heavens explode, all the while retaining an underlying calmness which settles the nerves.
Closer, ‘A Wound Of Earth 1’, begins with a similar pace but with more omen, a darkened swell of thunder graced by a barely discernible growl. As the hell progresses the resonant drone and the echoing, empty roars pulse and swell around the ears as if the globe itself is opening to suck us all into the gaping void of a black hole. Like the waking of a monster in ultra-slow motion with only the vast expanse of infinity as a witness, this is the soundtrack to the end of time.
In the wrong hands this sparsely populated, often uneventful music can be rendered pointless and utterly frustrating. With perfect judgement and an obvious wish to make an aural representation of the ideas in their mind, CEKE do not fall into that category. This is a testing listen and will require a certain mindset or mood, but for those fortunate enough to be open to it, it’s bloody genius.
8 / 10