Review: Wapstan/Envenomist, Split (Brise-Cul, 2005)

Canada's Wapstan is up first on this split with "La ou le Temps Importe Peu": Nearly nine minutes of massively thick layers of low-end resonance rising, falling, churning, and vibrating their way across the ears to varying degrees throughout the track. As has been the case with some of Wapstan's past work, once the layering starts to max out in terms of volume and density you'll start to hear lots of little crackling peaks that can disturb the cleanliness and flow of the rather smooth (yet quite ominous) composition, which isn't such a big deal, but trust me when I say that should those kinks get ironed out some of Wapstan's work could be astoundingly powerful. A massive 17-minute affair called "Swallow the Eye" follows, taking a bit more time to build in with its deeper hums and slightly brighter textures fading into the distance - though never really getting too loud, and mainly letting the oppressive bass rumbles dominate the selection. This is another brooding piece that represents some of the darkest work to date from the project, and that's certainly right up my alley! Envenomist then closes out the disc with "Benthic Epoch Pt. 1" and "Benthic Epoch Pt. 2", totaling just under 19 minutes of similarly minimal dark ambient excursions with plenty of dismal drones and hums that create a rather unsettling atmosphere. The drones in this case have very subtly melodic tinges, but nothing even remotely musical is in tow, so don't get the wrong idea. I'd say these two tracks are both more persistently repetitive and slightly thinner than Wapstan's work by comparison, but the actual feel is a relatively close match, which makes for a strong pairing on this release. The CD-R is spraypainted silver with some black speckles and comes in a black and white sleeve with a similar insert that both look to have been printed from a home computer. Design-wise the simplicity works a little better here than most of Brise-Cul's past releases, but I can't help but still feel like the visual presentation fails to properly represent the quality of this material. Despite the fact that all four tracks are long and repetitious, the consistency of the release actually works in its favor here, and all of the material tends to focus on a hypnotic sort of quality that helps carry the weight of the running times. This is actually some of the best material I've heard from both of these projects, so I'd love to see them get the opportunity to branch out from tiny limited runs on super underground labels sometime. In fact, with a little cleaning up, this very split would've made a great candidate for such an opportunity. Well done.

Running time - 44:19, Tracks: 4
[Notable tracks: all four are very nice]
Brise-Cul Records -