Review: Scarcity – Aveilut


Aveilut points to something bigger than itself. It presses against its own limits, straining to convey the incomprehensible. Multi-instrumentalist Brendon Randall-Myers created the record amidst grief and the pandemic; vocalist Doug Moore lived next to a funeral home as New York’s COVID numbers soared. While presented through the aesthetic palette of black metal – shrill guitars, blizzard screams, percussive avalanches – the duo contort these elements in service of catastrophic paradox: the intertwined energies of personal tragedy and global crisis, of individual deaths and abstracted statistics, of extreme solitude and solidaristic intimacy through circumstance. Alternate tunings and 72-note octaves reach for a language that might convey these collisions of emotional scale, with overtonal howls and psychoacoustic spectres often rising out of the guitars, shapeless and non-specific. Scarcity articulate themselves not through their constituent parts, but the void that forms between a dozen overlain communicative near-misses. They are the babbling mouth, unable to find the right words and trying all of them instead.

Randall-Myers’ is director of the Glenn Branca Ensemble, so it’s no surprise that repetition is used to compound and distort the sentiment. There’s a particular chord that the duo revisit throughout the 45-minute composition – it’s built and dismantled it note-by-note, reiterated at different octaves and different tempos, examined from all sides so as to better understand it. In the final reprise during the fourth part, it’s joined by a humming in the upper registers like melting church bells, as if summoning strange forces through mantric persistence. On the other end of the spectrum is the album’s 13-minute closer, which churns through various constellations of tremolo guitar without repeating itself, shifting one note at a time like someone haphazardly attempting to decipher a combination lock. The whole thing sounds like it was transposed from a gargantuan string arrangement: a panoramic homage to the circle eternally unsquared, rendering the thing through a procession of wretched manifestations of what it isn’t.

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