It may not sound like it to some, but making Ambient or Noise music is hard. Sure, the technical skills required by more traditional instruments aren’t required, but without the comfortable short-hand of riffs, choruses and the other elements of Pop/Rock songwriting, composition can be considerably more challenging. Anyone with a laptop can make some spooky noises and put them together, but making them interesting and engaging is another matter entirely.
On A Means By Which… (Redscroll/Annihilus Power Electronix), Theologian wield the familiar elements of roaring wind-tunnel distortion, ominous Noise and occasional distorted vocals to create the standard-issue sense of dread and dislocation across four tracks, but they also nod to their “Industrial” tag by incorporating languid programmed beats on some tracks. Though it’s hard to pin down exactly what stops AMBWTBTSOTR (even the acronym is too long) from really taking flight, these beats would probably be my vote for single biggest cause – too regimented and ordered to support the sense of dense, claustrophobic chaos achieved elsewhere and too withdrawn to really engage by themselves, they break the atmosphere without adding anything else to replace it. There are times, for example during second track ‘Surface Of The Real’, when they succeed in building up quite a menacing swagger, but it fails to really deliver into a satisfying pay-off. It’s a cliché, but nothing on here goes beyond the level of wallpaper – nice enough to have in the background, but nothing that’s going to engage you by itself.
Ultimately, The Album I Am No Longer Going To Name falls into that most frustrating of categories – There’s Nothing Really Wrong With It, I Suppose, But It’s Just Not Special Enough. If you’re looking for nothing but vaguely spooky background sounds then there’s nothing really to fault here, but Theologian’s ambitions to transcend reality or subvert perception fall far short of the mark.