Natural Snow Buildings Waves Of The Random Sea

[Blackest Rainbow; 2011]

Styles: drone-folk
Others: Twinsistermoon, Isengrind, Steven R. Smith, Fursaxa

For over a decade, the duo of Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte have been exporting ritualistic folk and occult drones from Vitré, France. Whether together as Natural Snow Buildings or solo as Twinsistermoon or Isengrind (respectively), the two have always been a cult phenomena. However, in recent years, their audience has expanded. With how much devotion the two put into each release (handcrafted designs, accompanying comic books, etc.) and a gargantuan oeuvre, it’s easy to see why such earnest, genuine musicians appeal beyond the most out-there droners.

To say Natural Snow Buildings are prolific is an understatement. In 2008 alone, they released five CD-Rs, two 3-inch CDs, two cassettes, a compilation, and a reissue, most of which spanned several hours. But with such a swift release pace, creative stagnancy has always been a concern among their fans. And as of late, many seem terrified of such a prospect. Ever since 2009’s Shadow Kingdom, fans have been quietly decrying homogeneity, even though most of the group’s releases have been met with praise. So it’s no surprise that their newest release Waves Of The Random Sea has invoked an even louder pre-release clamoring.

Waves is composed of six tracks (with seven on the LP) spread across nearly 80 minutes. Opting primarily for extended drones (of both improvised and composed origins), the structure best resembles 2008’s 3CD-R Night Coercion Into The Company Of Witches, in which the long durations permit introspection and self-contained evolution. This is in stark contrast to 2006’s The Dance Of The Moon And The Sun, the group’s unanimous watermark and obvious point of reference for critical fans, which married brief, tender vocal-based tracks with the best kind of drum circle jams.

But in sound, the album can’t be categorized as either a member of the Night Coercion or The Dance equivalence classes. Sure, the darker themes of their formative, extended albums are all but abandoned, but the aforementioned focus on drones and near absence of Mehdi’s ambisexual voice (appearing only on “This Ice Fortress” and “Still Desert”) makes Waves a hybrid of a record. And it sure has some amazing stretches: the waning moments of “This Ice Fortress” feature patent-pending NSB primal drums and drones before Mehdi’s most moving vocal snippets, while the seemingly never-ending dissipation and repetitive plucking of “Through Breaches In The Layer Of Fog” is mesmerizing.

Given that Waves sounds self-contained within Natural Snow Buildings’ own discography — an amalgamation of past themes, instrumentation, and structures — it’s understandable how fans might worry about its freshness. But Waves is yet another grand statement from a band with few contemporaries. It’s hard to complain about that.

Links: Blackest Rainbow

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