4 out of 5
Label: SIGE Records
Produced by: Daniel Menche (mixed by, arranged by)
An hour plus of intimate, immersive – and interestingly delicate, while being often atonal at the same time – experimental noise and drone. Comprised of a heavy blend of field recordings, guitar, electronics, and keys from Daniel Menche and Mamiffer (Aaron Turner and Faith Coloccia), ‘Crater’ is inspired by (presumably) the stark imagery contained in its liner notes – black and white satellite photos of bare landscapes, then given a minimalist pen-line interpretation on the facing page, which could be said to mirror the way the songs combine the “nature” noises with studio noises. What’s interesting about this is, oddly, how inhuman it is; often, with drone / noise, I enjoy sensing that there’s a human being behind it, sweating the sounds to life, but ‘Crater’ is distancing, even when working with “traditional” instrumentation, like the piano that opens and closes the album. But this is the right choice: by stripping away that sort of organicness, the album fully “becomes” its emanations, and the album’s sequencing, and then intra-track, also play with this, starting quiet and clear and bringing in more prominent distortion and vague, rhythmic elements as songs develop. It’s stunning stuff, both far away from where Mamiffer began their musical journey, and also from something easily described as just noise, or drone, or ambient.
My only gripe, here, is that, excepting the bookend tracks, the album sort of starts over in its effect with each track, taking full advantage of an average song time of 15 minutes to crawl through quiet opening sections. Not that we should remain at full blast the whole way through, but I found myself getting a little impatient waiting for each track to rope in its various layers, especially since, as mentioned, there is a general consideration for how each song stacks against another overall… I dunno. I’m sure it’s something that one could get used to after several spins, but I was so captured by any given song that I couldn’t help but feel a little left out of that sensation when the next track would leave me stranded in nigh-silence for a few minutes.
A well-considered, impressive package, perhaps helping listeners (like myself) reach further into musical genres that they haven’t truly explored.