Ethan McCarthy‘s myriad recordings under his classification of ‘Noise’ are what many of us might name Harsh Ambient or Ambient Drone. Dystopian, disturbian, yet with elements of clarity that break through the crushing sound (and occasional soundbites of sex), many fans will have encountered these often challenging passages through his work with Primitive Man and here with his solo project Many Blessings. Sophomore album Emanation Body (Translation Loss Records) embraces more atmospheric airs whilst retaining much of that visceral anger.
This is evident from the first sparing, Dub-like beats of opener ‘Invocation’: yet the resonance and metallic shards are there in the background, waiting to grow. It’s a curious mix of the near non-existent and the emerging swell: the tension among the peace that twists and tortures every sinew. As the rumbling undercurrent subtly takes hold, the mid-section becomes a nerve-shredding succession of guitar howls and electronic creaks, yet the build remains near unnoticeable.
It’s a gripping opening which moves into the Eastern samples of the ensuing ‘Immersion’, the wails of despair given reverberation by mimicking guitar chords which set the teeth on edge: here again, however, it’s without rhythm: nothing in the background save for that Low-end, thunderous hum which truly evokes the vision of apocalypse. It’s the mid-section where the second movement threatens to explode, then descends into a cosmic echo chamber that resounds with empty, horrific aftermath.
The strange chord progressions during the initial stages of ‘Pandæmonium’ could have been made by the gentle brushing of bamboo tubes: but the eerie atmospheres around that Japanese effect swell and create a claustrophobia that first troubles then infests the brain as it grows with squalling, abrasive horror. The skill in controlling this spewing ball of chaos speaks volumes of McCarthy’s inventive power, the screaming pitches and amplification toward the coda nearly unbearable yet reflecting the track’s title perfectly. It’s followed by the comparatively brief ‘Ruina’, the pedal effects and background fuzz resembling the gunning engines of a space rocket with more synth work doubling the resonance: the whole again building to a delicious, head-imploding cacophony.
Closer ‘Harm Signal’ begins with a steady footfall of rhythm before more stellar keys and bleak, low notes hum and growl beneath. The howls and staccato effects peppering this final ten minutes express a range of emotions, and embody what’s truly remarkable about Emanation Body: it’s an Ambient Drone album full of vignettes, stories that can be interpreted and / or followed as the listener sees fit, but all of which are thrilling, exhaustive yet cathartic experiences. Typical McCarthy then. The possessed genius returns.
8 / 10