Sunday, July 19, 2020

Zelkova Serrata #1 - Japanese Zelkova

This tree was gifted to me by a local resident reducing their collection in 2019.

Summer of 2019
Early Spring 2020, before bud-break

Early Spring 2020, after structural pruning

Mid-Summer 2020

Mid-Summer 2020 after pruning

Mid Summer 2020 - Early Wiring to set new growth
July, 19th, 2020 - The tree has some flaws, mainly the super straight low trunk which would only truly lend itself to a broom style, so that is likely what I will be doing. The wiring out of the tree helped me view where the tree's apex should be - the skinny wired branch about halfway up will be the new main trunk line. Next winter, I'll do another heavy structural prune and remove the top of the tree above that point. The tree also needs some root work done to it so, I will be repotting the tree into a shallower growing container.. I will possibly need to ground layer the tree if the roots are really bad or don't work with the currently planned front of the tree. I may eventually Ebihara the roots if I go this route. The trunk is thick enough to hold a screw and board.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Nameless Void - Nameless Void

Nameless Void's sole self titled release is yet another example of the dominance of cosmic atmospheres and existential nihilism that is so pervasive within the black metal / noise genres. The shift towards this deeply personal and individualistic attempt at fear and bleakness, at turning the spotlight on the insignificance of our lives by the measurements of cosmic phenomena and events, an ontological extremism in contrast to the overplayed angles, is ever more abundant in recent releases, it seems. By all comparisons Nameless Void is extreme in it's effect: unsettling, surprising, harsh, and depressing. There are no complaints from me at all along these fronts and the tape is successful in achieving it's goal of blatant unacceptable auditory terror coupled with its thematic displeasure.

Yet, If I may be so controversial in my assessment, there is no such thing as extremity any longer. The unintentional desensitization of the masses has reached it's zenith to a point where it is essentially impossible to create something which has the potential to impact the emotions of a listener so thoroughly that the mark remains an indelible scar on the psyche. Gone are the days when Black Metal was still something dangerous to discover, when Metal had a congressional target on it's back, and when a single hip-thrust ruined the innocence of a generation of women. To think, in terms of sexuality, there hasn't been anything so extreme as Elvis' lower half having to be cropped from TV in the modern era. Somewhere in the vast expanse of the cosmos is a TV signal which has the potential to destroy the procreation rituals of distant life forms; a human male butt in white leather pants shaking with a cultural lethality on par with that of a sniper's bullet.

But Nameless Void does a good job of creating ominous and tense cosmic atmospheres through a thoroughly balanced approach and were I to play any of these three songs for eighty-five percent of listeners, they would surely be uneasy to be in close proximity with me for the rest of their life. For laymen, most of this effect comes from the sections of war-metal blasting, but I find the gritty tonality from the synths which crawl over everything like a large spider to carry the main dreadful weight. Similar to Vessel of Iniquity's recently reviewed eponymous demo tape, Nameless Void combine the same basic ingredients, but where Vessel of Iniquity allowed the ambient, atmospheric elements to lay submerged, here they take precedence. Drumming is extremely distant, vocals are a flange-laden roiling slime where they survive, and the synths are the major foundational force for the music supporting the song structures.

Of the three songs, "Black Wormhole" happens to be my favorite of the bunch - probably because it is the only song which relies totally on the synth-horror. The six minutes of low, droning, evil, masochistic tones is a beacon shining light on where Nameless Void hide their best material. Undulating bottom-end frequencies sound humid and festering, thriving in the magnetic tape-hiss universe. At six minutes long, the track is not short by conventional means, however it also is not long, compared to the ten-minute long serpents which slither alongside it in this swamp of a tape. I think anyone who appreciates funeral doom with a blackened element would enjoy Nameless Void, especially fans of Nortt and Skepticism and the like.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Vessel of Iniquity - Vessel of Iniquity

Vessel of Iniquity has a similar effect as seeing Deiphago live. Sunglasses and all. A wall of sound with little recognizable composition structure or melodic movement; artillery firing continuously without reprieve or synchronicity; the call of crickets over frogs on a warm night in Pennsylvania; the stampede of human feet on busy city streets... and yet, in such droning cacophonies are patterns left to be discerned and discovered; the faster rate of fire of one specific gun with a more competent unit to load its shells; the one closest cricket's variegated chirp; a successful confident woman's high heels clacking above the impoverished soft-soled dirty sneakers of the homeless. Finding the individual elements to latch on to is limited in the sense of Vessel of Iniquity - there are only so many instruments and sounds in the arrangement at least - but it can be approached the same way. Music where you want to find music, beauty where you want to see beauty, extremity if you want to be alarmed.

Breaking down the components of S. P. White's project, then, can both help understand how to hear Vessel of Iniquity, as well as hinder the greater scene before us. At times, I wonder whether we want to separate the components or not. Does doing so lose something of the project's purpose of being? It would be simple enough to an extent to explain the underlying droning melodic elements which exist in all three of the tracks, to denote the atmospheric blasting drumming and percussive elements, and opine on the psychedelic black metal rasps which constitute White's vocals. Guitars offer an essentially indiscernible spray of static particulates across the mix, like distant blips of light in the pith of the cosmic expanse called 'sky'. An overall deep, low mix - perhaps a result of the tape media I am hearing this on - is just the right quantity of murk to add an opaque quality to the medium, without completely filling the recording with flotsam.

What is truly of note, is the combined effect of all these minutia. A swallowing gulping trio of big empty misery. It's funeral doom, but opposite. Instead of big long empty spaces between long singular notes, Vessel of Iniquity creates big empty walls of sound across flitting bursts of double bass, static guitars, and the endless droning of singular long-form melodic atmosphere that serves as an existential backdrop upon which all the other other instrumentation finds footing. In this grand funeral-doom sense, it's easy to view the three songs as one long song with two small breathing points, and doing so, it should not be faulted for feeling that the fifteen minute runtime is just a tad too short for even this EP. Considered as Black Metal, though, it's a perfect quick blast of hatred for the desirous ears.

It's easy to question the role of what I would deem solid-mass-metal in the current climate of extremity. For me, Vessel of Iniquity isn't more extreme than harsh noise power electronics. It also isn't as extreme in the opposite direction of incredibly melodic atmospheric black metal. Much like Thrash Metal, this too falls somewhere in the middle of extremity. So what does the genre, and Vessel of Iniquity truly offer us? It's the same enjoyment as a Word Search, but you've not been given words to find. Instead you decide what you want to discern and gleam from the patterns of sonic abandon. The final track on this tape, "Choronzon," is the most complete puzzle here, building from a sullen spoken word intro, slowly adding layers of droning guitar, distant percussion, the recognizable atmospheric hiss drawing the listener hither. The track exemplifies Vessel of Iniquity as creating something beyond sound; a complete maze to enter and exit.