Tip! Lawrence English teams up with Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart once again for another voyage into ambient music's punishing underworld. It’s their gloomiest slab to date - unfurling nightmarish Lynchian drones and seismic, overdriven rumbles that sound like a Thomas Köner and Wolf Eyes soundtrack to Dante's Inferno.
If the gaseous, clouded noise of 'Material Interstices' sounds as if it could be snatched from one of David Lynch's most unsettling dream sequences, we have to assume that's completely intentional. The inspiration for the album came from two of English's recurring dreams, one of which had recently re-emerged. When English chatted to Stewart about it - a labyrinthine subterranean horrorscape of concrete and iron underneath his house - Stewart related to having unusual sleep patterns. So the music emerged from this midnight realm, and illustrates English's Tetsuo-inspired industrial fantasy in grim detail.
Those expecting the beauty and charm of English's lighter material might be in for a shock. This is vantablack level darkness, inspired by 1980s industrial tape music, blurry noise and the darkest of dark ambient records. Think the bleakest end of Dean Hurley, Maurizio Bianchi, Lustmord or The Haxan Cloak, but assembled to trigger near hypnagogic states. There's an intentionality about "Material Interstices" that feels knotted to its nocturnal inspiration - English and Stewart simultaneously invoke nostalgia, dread and wonder, recalling industrial music's rich legacy but suggesting its future might not be entirely written just yet.
The sound of an ember of recollection that smolders without extinction. An atomic pressure wave of memory, blurred through hypnogogia. An unwritten transcription of speculative consciousness. A slit through which of materials erupt. A note from Lawrence English: "When I was child I had two recurring dreams. Both these dreams were tethered to the house I lived in. It was a rambling home which was high set but underneath it was largely unfinished. The underside of the house was a labyrinth of small rooms, concrete pits and a collection of building materials, piping and leftover furniture sat alongside beds of dirt that had a consistency of lunar dust. The first recurring dream was of a burning bird, falling from the sky past the kitchen window in the early hours of the morning . . . This dream has never returned to me as an adult, though I can vividly recount it. The second dream has recently emerged, albeit a distant hazy reference to the tangible intensity that I experienced when I was younger. This dream was one buried deep within the labyrinthian, unfinished features that existed under my house. The dream usually started with me playing on the lunar dirt and gradually a sound would emerge from a large concrete pit that was in the center of the space. The sound would get louder and eventually I would have to go and inspect it. It called me in, there's no other way to describe it. As I looked into the pit, there was always some kind of hatch, often resembling a pressure door, the type you might see in a submarine film, and the sound would emanate from underneath that hatch. It was also a throbbing, hammering type of sound, deeply diminished and buried, like hearing bass music from a car parked up the block . . . I was surprised that, over the past year, this dream has returned to me. Perhaps it's a result of the general quietening of the world and that innate way our ears can open up to even the most subtle acoustic shifts when we are sleeping. Remote sounds, usually hidden in the din of the urban nightscape, were filtering into my dreams and triggering some kind of speculative consciousness . . . Last year, I mentioned this dream to Jamie, and he too reported unsteady sleep patterns. This got us to thinking about how the dynamics of the world have recently shifted towards the emergence of the natural world. Equally though it has shifted in favor of its shadow; those ongoing industrial, mechanical and other acoustic by-products of human (and unhuman) labor reach out from the hushed ambient noise floor..."