Review: Reaching Needles – Illwisher (Death to Dynamics, Jan 8)

Sometimes the best walls are not the ones that immediately and loudly assert their full presence, but rather the ones that sort of creep up on you, and Reaching Needles’ first externally produced material on the promising new Death to Dynamics imprint is certainly the latter. At first blush the noise palette of Illwisher is muffled, limp, dead, swirling thickly but lazily like the dust from a dried-out bird corpse (the Ottawa-based artist has an aesthetic predilection for things in trees; see the terrifying profile image of their Bandcamp page for another example), dark and dense but lacking the force of life. It helps that the sole half-hour track is mastered rather low, stripping the sonic mudslide of any unearned abrasion and relegating it to the background. But, as I’ve already implied, there is more to this release than meets the eye, or ear (or nose, I suppose—think mothball-filled attics, sunbaked flesh, the unspeakable liquid concoction that collects at the bottom of trash bags). As the central drone burrows through the middle channel like an eager maggot, subtle details in its periphery begin to reveal themselves: chunky microtectonics deep within the core of the distortion cocoon, fleeting bits of buried hum that are often almost tonal, tremors and trembles where before there seemed to be only stasis. Perhaps death is not the end after all, and we get the privilege of remaining conscious as the earth reclaims our bodies. Illwisher is what the final stages of that would sound like. And it only takes 30 minutes! Efficient.