Review: Darksmith – Poverty of Will (Chocolate Monk, Mar 22)

So, as you can probably see, this one came out quite a bit ago. Even though I prefer to review releases that are quite recent, sometimes it takes time for me to really mull something over or even find out it exists—or, as in this case, both of those. I have an ever-expanding appreciation for Darksmith’s work, a trend to which this album is no exception.

There are sections of Poverty of Will that are truly terrifying. On previous works like Total Vacuum and Gypsy the music occupies an uneasy gradient between the two sides of solitude—the sublime withdrawnness of it all, always in tandem with a feeling of oppressive loneliness—but here there’s something much more frightening. The 36-second introductory track, “Now Try a Dumb Voice,” appears not to be hiding anything behind processing or manipulation, but in true Darksmith fashion it is nigh undecipherable, save for some muffled voices (maybe from a TV?); and in less than a minute a nagging dread creeps in. The hectic found sound collages of “Visiting Hours Are Over” are even further from anything recognizable, cutting and immersive and nightmarish, almost Changez Les Blockeurs-esque in their disturbing detachment. They end up acting as a tone-setter for the uninterrupted recording that follows, which strips the preceding squall down to the hum and hiss of tape playback and echoing footsteps, cast in smoky shadow by what came before. Poverty of Will is scary, I would definitely say that, but Darksmith’s music, more often than not, resides in a distorted sound-world far removed from the world I know, and much of the fear it brings is not at all concrete. Rather, this absolute isolation renders you helpless, completely subject to Darksmith’s eerily alien yet always familiar apparitions.