Music’s ability to move me, emotionally, and to transport me to places and experiences that are outside my usual sphere of familiarity is the crowning achievement of the art. To say that 99% of the music fails to achieve this goal would be an understatement. It seems that the art has been dumbed down in recent years, especially in extreme circles. There are a handful of bands pushing the envelope. The majority seem safe and content in bubbles of repetition and melody. When was the last time you listened to a piece of music and you felt like it was a genuine experience? If, like me, you can only remember a handful of answers to that question then projects like Malpais, from Gog and William Fowler Collins, should be on the top of your list.
This joint contribution from Gog and William Fowler Collins is as unrelenting and colossal in scope as the artwork and album title promise it to be. Malpais is an unwinding tale, unwittingly set on some arid wasteland bereft of precipitation and human consideration. Using noise and ambience as the vehicle of delivery, Malpais manages to build layers of atmosphere on relatively sparse mechanics to deliver some otherworldy ambience. As clichéd as this sounds, Gog & William Fowler Collins have crafted an experience of bewildering clarity. Along this journey you are subsumed under the weight of the music from the get go, forced to live and relive moments of anguish and sublime terror. You are the lone, frail human vessel submitting to death at the hand of nature. Desiccated, hallucinatory and half-conscious. Malpais is an acknowledgement of human insignificance and the supreme hand of nature.
Not since Paysage d’hiver has music delivered such a tidal, conquering experience. This is what dying in the desert might sound like. Walls of textured noise conjure visions of titanic sandstorms. Synth and glistening diamonds of light hide somewhere in the background, the only respite before the eye of the storm. These walls of noise start and stop without much notice before falling into sections of restrained nothingness or the only recognisable human element that appears on the recording. A low, dumb thud that I suspect represents a heartbeat tracks the level of conscious activity after a battering from the elements.
Malpais is a tough experience to swallow. Swathes of noise and ambience tell a harrowing story. A story more frightening and uncomfortable than any riff-count or satanic aesthetic could muster. This is extreme music in every sense of the word. The journey however, convinces me that these two artists are forerunners in the field of forward thinking noise, ambience and drone. Pick this up now from Utech Records. You will not regret it.