By Christopher Nosnibor
I’d been sold Insect Ark on the basis that Dana Schechter served with Michael Gira’s Angels of Light and now functions as a virtual one woman Swans. It’s a substantial claim, but one that isn’t without justification.
The seven-minute title track is propelled by a throbbing bassline and guitars that hang in suspension in the way Swans created a crystalline atmosphere on ‘Greed.’ But there’s also a depth and richness of tone that calls to mind latter-day Earth, and through its sprawling, slow build, creates something that uplifts the spirit instead of crushing it, despite its slow pace and overt heaviness.
There are some dark, disorientating moments here: the trudge of ‘The Collector’ calls to mind the battering bass-led assault of ‘Cop’ and the Young God EP, in particular ‘Your Property’ and the last two minutes of ‘I Crawled.’ However, the squalling guitar is replaced by almost ethereal synth layers and a subtle sonic mist that creates a certain levity – although that isn’t to say it isn’t heavy or lacks intensity, as the thrashing cymbals and thunderous bass create a dense and oppressive wall of sound.
The dolorous ‘Taalith’ transitions to a more ethereal place over the course of its seven minutes, ultimately creating a sonic space that’s evocative and ponderous. By turns dank, and shrill, the final track ‘Low Moon’ is eerie and unsettling, a difficult piece of dark ambience reminiscent of ‘The Body Haters.’
The comparisons are of course easy, although listening to Porta/Well is not. Similarly, it’s important that this work isn’t viewed solely in the shadow of Michael Gira or Angels of Light.
Portal/Well is released by Autumnsongs Records