**One of the most iconic ambient albums of the last decade, Kevin Drumm 'Imperial Distortion' had an extremely limited vinyl pressing a couple of years ago which some argued never quite captured the full depth and frequency range of the original material due to the way in which it was mastered. This brand new edition has long been planned by the label and has now been painstakingly remastered by Matt Colton, unveiling a filigree spectrum of microtonal flux and layers of atmosphere that were simply neglected with the previous edition. It's like surveying the same post-apocalyptic landscape without your gas mask on...** Recorded at Green Hell Studio 98-08. Mastered by Kris Lapke. 'What does a person do when faced with a work like Imperial Distortion? There are rare moments in an artist's work where they reveal a greater truth. Kevin Drumm has already made such a statement with his last major solo work 2002's Sheer Hellish Miasma. Where that record took noise music to a new level of near-impenetrable exactitude, Imperial Distortion is an altogether different beast. Beauty as an aesthetic can be as terrifying as horror, desire unfulfilled, romance that lingers and never goes away no matter how disappointing. A preoccupation with death can be the only result. On this extended long form release Kevin Drumm comes face to face with minimal drone music and confronts the genre by providing one of its absolute pinnacles at the forefront; movement. Drone music at its most concentrated and ably performed has build and depth in its tones. Although there might be the illusion of stasis the opposite is true. From the opening twenty minute track 'Guillain-Barre' the mood of the album is laid clear.
The arrangements are shadowy layers of soundtrack like tones not entirely unlike the work that Popul Vuh provided for Herzog's films. By track two 'more Blood and Guts' with its ominous bell tones its apparent that there is a true nothing that's associated with these sounds other than the mood inducing hypnosis and the feeling of drowning yet having no ability to fight the slow pull. The middle portion of the record is 'Snow' which was released as a limited cassette last year on Hospital Productions. This material was a teaser for the full album Imperial Distortion. The Tracks have an almost ballad-esque sense of elegance using tone and frequency as melodic portals to nowhere. The sustain in the piece suggests a weight while remaining alarmingly pleasant to the ears. The tension suggests an anxiety that never truly dies. The alarm comes from the juxtaposition of tones and mood. While the tones may sound gorgeous in their purity the mood implies a profound sense of unease and perhaps an acceptance of the inevitability of existential dilemma. This point is most thoroughly evidenced by the albums closer 'We All Get It In the End'. While the piece starts out with lullaby ease, a few minutes in an equally severe dark drone eclipses the light and the night takes over. Here in the enveloped sounds the clouds pass over the moonlight creating a spectral dark that is unforgettable in its intensity. To answer the initial question of Imperial Distortion, this is a work that commands intellectual and emotional commitment on the levels of the greatest works to come from this genre.
When faced with an abstract work as complete as Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 or Eliane Radigue's Trilogy of Death, a listener is transported not only to another place but also the deepest layers of themselves. Kevin Drumm has with this release accomplished that rare balance to create a masterwork that no one has yet to come close to in this era. Your best bet is to surrender.'