Review: BLK w/Bear – The Final Mapping Of New Constellations

Through the lens of BLK w/Bear, the act of composition becomes as temporal and elusive as sound itself. The Final Mapping Of New Constellations uses the remix to unravel any perspective of a finished “song” as an immaculate and immortal sculpture; rather, it is a chance collision of several players on the tone/timbre spectrum, and while the recording process creates the illusion that the end product is a climactic culmination toward which all creative energy gravitates, it is in fact just one of momentary configuration of vibration among an expanse of possibilities, much like a photograph. This album scatters the fragments of Last Harbour’s song “The Stars Look Down” across 47 minutes of new music, tapping into the hidden atmospheres within the song’s corners and crevices, and discovering what may have happened if the track’s source material found its way into starkly different sonic company.

The original track is sleek and melancholic, commencing like David Sylvian stargazing into glinting piano drops before gathering up the same momentum and inner demons as Swans at their most exasperated and delicate. BLK w/Bear create the impression that “The Stars Look Down” arrived with them as a weathered time capsule relic; a dusty, fragmented echo of a distant elsewhere, now coated in the crackle and muffle of accumulated years. Synthesisers kick up into the air like clouds of grey ash, while gentle etches of piano loop and tambourine try to align to the elements into a new, coherent present tense, often dropping out altogether to permit the swirl and free dispersal of the album’s individual elements. Perhaps the most beautiful sound on the record is the strained, metallic whine of a bowed cymbal, resembling a rusty metal gate guided back and forth by the album’s bitter autumnal breeze – I’m guided into thoughts of washed out forests and lone evening walks, striding into a landscape that respires in its own desolation and abandonment, while a plosive vinyl skip paints a nearby train clacking eternally over uneven tracks, careering mournfully into nowhere.