Review: Navicon Torture Technologies “All I Want to Hear is the Sound of My Own Heart Stopping” 2xCD

I just got this in the mail for review about a month ago, but all of these tracks were recorded two to four years ago, so it might have been out for some time, I'm not entirely sure. Whatever the case, this is a massive collection of material from Navicon Torture Technologies that contains live tracks, remixes, and a collaboration. First up is a 26-minute live set from Massachusetts in 2003 with some additional live sound from Sickness' Chris Goudreau, containing the tracks "Slow Shadow of Impending Ruin", "Beauty in These Ruins", and "The Simplicity of Hope" - all of which blend together into one massive slab of rather restrained dark ambient atmospheres with a few subtle percussive elements and occasionally droning vocals that add a rather excellent touch. The last chunk of the set is actually much harsher and more abrasive, though not over the top, keeping the shouting vocals deep in against the throbbing low-end, while the distortion remains thick and oppressive rather than overbearing in attack. Then it's "I Shall Fear No More (Emergence)" and "My Lungs Flood For You", recorded live in New York City (2002) with additional live and pre-recorded contributions from Tim Spann (Abfall), Coph Nia, and Nothing. Things start off with a rather percussive angle that lets the vocals have a lot of room to breathe, though the sound quality seems a bit thinner here, and a lot of the textures fall more to the distance. Later on a crispier style of brittle distortion takes hold while subtly melodic synths are still present far of in the background, as the vocals take a break. "The Illusions That Loneliness Manufactures" appears in condensed form, recorded in Rhode Island in 2002, with more additional contributions provided by Tim Spann. Even at "edited" length, this performance is a 22-minute jaunt that shifts from thin, crunchy, restrained distortion to lulled ambience and sampled chanting or a spacey blend of the two, as rhythmic textures start to shuffle back and forth before an abrasive explosion (complete with maniacal vocal work) around 15 minutes in. Another live set from New York (also an "edit"), this time dating back to 2001, "Warm Ischemia" and "Personal Apocalypse" see Bill Spataro, Nick Dellapenna, and Montana Masback joining on for additional live sound as a midgrade distortion hovers over more ambient drones (the latter of which dominates the performance, joined by more samples for the latter chunk) - this time with a slightly louder and more robust recording, though just barely. The second disc is similarly structured, opening with another live take on "The Illusions that Loneliness Manufactures" (This time also 21 minutes, though not considered an "edit"?), live in Pennsylvania (2002). Recorded only seven days before the rendition that appeared on disc 1, I'm not entirely sure why two different performances were selected, especially for such a long track, because despite a few differences, it's not as interesting as additional remixes or live recordings of other songs would've been in the grand scheme of this collection. "My Lungs Drown For You" (which may or may not be in some way a variation on "My Lungs Flood For You" from the prior disc) is a 14-minute remix of Nothing's "The Precision in Drowning", which provides an excellent blend of mildly grating distorted sounds with powerfully melodic undercurrents that are actually quite hypnotically repetitious sans the harsh vocals cranking in midway through for a brief stint. Very nice. "A Prison of My Own Design" follows and contains source sound from a live Skincage performance recorded in 2002 for which Leech from Navicon Torture Technologies provided the vocals. This piece was actually recorded and assembled by Skincage's Jon Ray, and I enjoy the thick presence of sound that swirls around, though its overall character is a bit out of sorts with the rest of this material, and lacks the personal touch that Navicon Torture Technologies' work carries on its own. "We Are Wound Around Each Other", "A Telepathic Glimpse of Death's True Face", and "The Simplicity of Hope", also live in Pennsylvania (2002), contain addition live contributions from Mark Kammerbauer (Fragment King) and close with 27 minutes of supremely punishing atmospheres. After a brief sample near the start, minimal hums and distant percussive resonations take hold with the same type of droning vocals that started out the first disc. Spoken vocals make an appearance later on, but I'm not particularly fond of that element in this live setting, as it sound a little plain and uneventful compared to how colorful and persistent the opening series of this set was. Thankfully things quickly rise back in with distortion and wicked shouting afterwards, closing on a stronger note. The CD-R's come in a DVD case with some great looking artwork that's very atypical of most noise releases, providing the tracklist and all necessary details on the back, while one of the inner trays is hand-numbered out of 150 copies. All in all I'm somewhat torn on this disc, as I'm a big Navicon Torture Technologies fan, but despite some killer moments, a lot of this material loses a little something in the documentation process - as opposed to a proper recording or actually being there yourself to experience it in the flesh. So the fact that the recordings do exhibit some of the less effective qualities of live performances, and that this is an almost endurance testing listening session where the first disc is a bit more interesting than the last, can be a bit of hindrance in terms of overall enjoyment. Nonetheless, this material certainly proves that Navicon Torture Technologies is a solid live act that doesn't fuck around in terms of preparation, so... that counts for something, and there are indeed some nice odds and ends on this one.

Running time - 2:17:16, Tracks: 8
[Notable tracks: Slow Shadow of Impending Ruin, Beauty in These Ruins, The Simplicity of Hope, I Shall Fear No More (Emergence), My Lungs Flood For You, My Lungs Drown For You]
Stridulum Recordings -