“V.A. Essential Memories EP Part III” (Emerald) [May 28, 2021]

Music for a clash of clans after a devastating global extermination event, Emerald’s VA Essential Memories EP featuring the label’s mainstays like Remco Beekwilder and Tim Tama sounds like an all-out rave in a fallout bunker as the world burns.

The Emerald label, always featuring mutilated leathery faces on the covers, usually portends a certain brooding darkness. The music represented here appears to emanate from some bleak future upon which untold catastrophes have already been visited; the mourning rites of new tribes forced to live on irradiated land. This effect in particular is achieved on Beekwilder’s tracks, especially the haunting, mythic interlude and closer; in which a newscaster reports on some worldwide unexplainable noise emanating from the sky. This general atmosphere of foretold apocalypse is belied by the most unexpected of producers on this collection – Tim Tama – who usually produces unrelentingly brutal music, here delivering a kind of emotional respite from the darkness. “Damage Per Second” is like the sunrise over war, revelatory of damage but nonetheless welcome to beleaguered survivors who now have a chance to search for each other in the growing orange light tainted by fallout. Introversion’s “Inosensu To Batō” evokes the same kind of doomed morning, utilizing a vocal chant in a hypnotic, entrancing loop that could shift a ritual dance around a blazing fire on a desert night to an alternate energetic plane if the mood and hour are just right (a continuation of the ritual is evoked on Beekwilder’s “Bonebreaker”).

Then there are tracks like “Afterburn,” which could easily serve as the soundtrack to the blood rave scene in Blade with pumping, razor-edged synth lines that might have been dreamed up by Heckmann in his heyday. In a similar vein, the soundtrack of some newly mutant race of cannibal bezerker, Jerm’s “Needle Mover” does exactly what it says on the tin: one might imagine an insufficiently stabilized turntable not surviving this track for long, as the kicks and rims hit with a heft best measured by seismological equipment designed for a San-Andreas fault on doomsday. Hollow, airy bell tones in the background and killer hell-bound stabs round out the milieu.

Pure psychological devastation is achieved on Plaintiff’s “NAP.” Perhaps a field recording from when the carnage began. The track is constructed with sounds similar enough to a warning siren for a nuclear meltdown or breached hull to trigger a genuine adrenal response. The alarms richochet off of damaged metal, but there is no escape.

-Winston Mann

Link – Bandcamp

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