Folk at the Boring Machines label have drawn comparisons with New York minimalist Phill Niblock when describing the sound of Chàsm Achanés. Harmonically you can hear where they’re coming from – low drones are pitched far enough apart to be distinguishable, but close enough together to grate and groan as part of a twisted block of sound that refuses lift itself out of dissonance. But unlike Niblock, who tends to disregard the conventional concept of structure and gradually morphs his music in a manner that is unnoticeable and unrelenting, this collaboration is slightly more explicit in its dynamic shifts.
A guttural moan of horn takes a central role in the first half of this 35-minute track, smudged into a gruesome cloud of black fog, hanging overhead like an ominous fanfare. Various swirling drones eventually make a careful entrance before cutting back and re-entering again, with the eerie spells of quiet haunted by the promise of their return.
The whole piece seems caught in a surreal state of suspension – the music appears to make a very natural ascent towards climax without ever really reaching it. The closest it comes is the unnerving culmination of sound at 25-30 minutes, at which point the dissonance adopts a terrifying, oncoming storm-style presence and rises up through the middle of the soundscape.
It appears to edge very slightly towards a resolution for the final five minutes. Part of me wishes it had come to a halt before this happens, leaving the listener with the internal echoes of the music at its most harrowing and fresh with the unease and confusion that accompanies a piece ending on a powerfully inconclusive note, like being abruptly shaken out of a nightmare. But as it is, the piece eases itself gradually into silence, listener emotions subside, and normality is carefully restored bit by bit. I’m still quite addicted to this collaboration regardless. For the most part it’s utterly brilliant.