It’s time to enter a very dark place. Poland’s mysterious and enigmatic doom-jazz-post rock-funk project -S- return with their first full-length release since their 2013 untitled debut. Led by composer, bassist, vocalist Patyr, with Grzegorz supplying drums, Dom, w którym mieszkał Wąż (A House Where Dwelled A Snake) (I, Voidhanger) is like nothing else you’re likely to hear, and that includes the group’s debut. The album is four tracks and forty-one minutes of oppressive, threatening, slithering, funky doom. If that sounds like a wild trip, it is.
And don’t forget those clarinets!
The album is bookend by its two longest tracks. Opener ‘Gość w Dom (Guest Into House)’ lulls the listener with a slow build of atmospherics, swooping synths, a burst of clarinet, a brief guttural yell, then the churning pulse of the bass and drums enter. This rhythmic interplay is the heartbeat of the album. On top of this a barking vocal delivery that brings to mind Michael Gira on early Swans, snaps at the listener. The introduction of guest clarinet players peppered through the record – swirling menacingly like black smoke – adds one more key ingredient to this dark concoction. If you aren’t in love with this record after three minutes of the opening track, it probably isn’t for you. If these opening minutes do scratch an itch though, you’re in for fully absorbing dark descent into the shadowy pits of your psyche.
The all-consuming bleakness in tone of the album never lets up, musically though there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the listener tuned in. The apparent repetition of these lengthy, rhythmic tracks belies the continual shifts in the drum and bass parts. Each repeated listen reveals more details in the playing.
With the first two tracks establishing the menacing tone, with a slow, persistent tempo, the second half of the record sees the drums and bass introduce bursts of urgent energy. ‘Janvs Absconditus’ quickly builds with a sharp, attacking bass and furious drum fills, before the track spirals out in different directions.
The fourteen minutes of closing track ‘Powroty’, takes the listener one last time through all the dark musical terrains of the album; deep, pulsating bass lines, anguished yells, the shifting sands of the drums and those ominous clarints, all make their presence felt. Once the final note is struck, the listener can climb out of the pit. Turns out the universe hasn’t collapsed into the void just yet.
8 / 10