The concept of “the split” – the split LP, the split EP, the split seven-inch, the split cassette – remains an underutilized favorite of ours for a variety of reasons, not least because the form remains the domain of what might reasonably be called the underground … or the subterranean … or the fuzz-obsessed freaks of burden.
Most notably, a split release allows us the opportunity to blather on predictably, pointlessly, to the delight of no one, about another favorite, underutilized concept – the “oneness of the duality. Not two, not one. This is the most important teaching.”
There’s probably few artists in the galaxy that strike us as better suited for use in the confrontation and contemplation of those heavy head-scratchers like “the oneness of the duality” than Expo 70. Over the course of seemingly countless releases birthed over the better part of the past decade, Expo 70 (the nom de l’exploration spatiale of Missouri-via-Mars resident Justin Wright) has created a marvelous legacy of sonic sorcery – or, to take the name of one of the releases on his own Sonic Meditations label, an inspired school of astral music.
Class, then, is most certainly in session for the recent release on the Sound of Cobra label, pairing Expo 70 with Ancient Ocean. Inspired as always, Expo 70 leads the journey – from sound, entry to everything.
Both artists here offer their own individual, 20-plus minute excursion into the deepest realms of deep listening, droning soundscapes both ambient and astral in nature, weaved together with a sense of a serpentine stream of consciousness, befitting the snake-named nature of the releasing label, Sound of Cobra. In the sound of both Ancient Ocean and Expo 70, there’s no need for the narrow definitions of “song” – and description alone casts a cold shadow over the proceedings. Rather, what applies are the emotions – pleasantly puzzling, stimulating, and enthusiastic emotions, brought about by a warm exploration of individuals slowing time.
Where the split between Expo 70 and Ancient Ocean can be defined as the sound of two individuals effortlessly punching holes into the immutability of time, a different – and altogether more beastly – beast lies at the heart of the third “Collisions” release from the always fiery Rocket Recordings, a split release from Gnod and $hit and $hine. Rather than the individual, the focus here is on the collective; rather than the irrelevance of time, the focus here would appear to be in the eradication of time – eradication with great prejudice.
The impact of Gnod upon our listening habits over the past couple of years can hardly be over emphasized. At the time of our interview with the shape-shifting UK wizards of sound late last year, we were very close to declaring the band to have released both the best and the second best albums of 2011 – and this was before we had been set deep into a cosmic-coma via “Genocider,” the crushing tomb of sound from “Chaudelande Volume II.”
Both Gnod and $hit and $hine bring to “Collisions 3” the full weight of massive, world-crushing force that comes from near complete disregard for convention, mysteriously expanding and contracting line-ups, and the willingness to wield the sharpest points of any number of sounds in order to achieve their goals. With both tracks clocking in around the fifteen-minute mark, dub aesthetics merge with combustible Detroit-bred explosions of raw power, synthesized beats antagonize a world of synthesized violence, chanting codas mesh with the hot breath of levitating bass riffs, and all limits are fast eroded.
May the collisions never end.
“Which means here that the limits between the ego and its opposites, such as the cosmos or God, are wiped out, and one all-combining feeling of community spreads over the entire universe.” Frederic Spiegelberg, 1948, “The Religion of No Religion”