Phurpa / Deathstench – Evoking Shadows Of Death LP Black Plagve 2016
On paper the pairing of the Russian ritual collective Phurpa and the American death industrial unit Deathstench promised to deliver intriguing results. In the end the outcome is more of an 12”EP given that there is around 25 minutes of music in total over the two sides of vinyl.
Given the minimalist percussive/ ritual chanting slant of Phurpa, this focuses the music towards a murky ritual ambient style, as opposed to the potentially heavy, pounding, death industrial side of Deathstenchs sound. (..lets just describe this ritual death ambient). For the two untitled compositions each follow similar sonic trajectories which involves deep mineshaft bass rumbles and sparse atonal guitar riffing (obviously courtesy of Deathstench), which are coupled with the distinctive drawling Tibetan throat signing chants and organic ritual percussion (obviously courtesy of Phurpa), which each gradually elevate to weighty crushing heaviness.
Although heavy and enveloping in its sonic darkness, there is also ample breadth to the sound palate to provide tonal separation of individual elements within the mix. Sonically this release is relatively straight down the line in sound and is faithful to what could be expected from a paring of the projects, but also perhaps leaves me wanting something more (…although being a solid release, it also does not quite reach a pinnacle level that was anticipated). Visually the cover suits the music perfectly, but for those slow to the punch the vinyl pressing of 150 copies is evidently already sold out.
Reviewing anything within the “Dark Ambient” genre is something I usually steer clear of, just because the reviews are usually boring. Theres a finite number of synonyms for “ominous”. However, when two of my favorite projects came together like some pact formed in Naraka, I felt like I owed it to (all five of) our readers, as well as myself, to put the proverbial pen to paper.
The DEATHSTENCH duo have been scaring children and creating their own version of Blackened Ritual Ambient for around five years now. Either solo or collaborating with the likes of the Demonologists or Trepaneringsritualen, their take on the genus includes a heavy Black Metal influence, usually incorporating some guitar into the mix. Phurpa are a collective of Russian musicians preforming the Tibetan ritual music of Bon, using traditional instruments and tantric throat singing. Incorporating a special attention to the visual, theyre an act that is completely mesmerizing to watch.
As far as I can tell, the LP consists of two, side long, untitled tracks. Theres no text on the sleeve, save for the title on the front cover, the spine, and a small label insignia. So lets go with “untitled”, shall we? Side A begins with a sub-bass salvo, like the opening of the gates of Mordor, a rumbling so intense it rattled the windows, but I like it loud, of course. This is soon accompanied by sporadic strums of heavily distorted guitar. The hypnotic intonation of Phurpa soon follows, and the room is filled with the otherworldly dissonance of undiluted ritual, growing in urgency and volume until nothing else exists.
Side B is similar in execution, but a bit more foreboding and menacing. The tones are even deeper, spiraling downward into darker, chthonic realms. Again, I believe volume is the key, whether by headphones, or choosing the neighbor terrifying option provided by a system with rich, resonant bass. As clichéd as it may sound, with just a little effort on the part of the listener, you are literally transported. I do recommend some incense and candles for those looking for a transcendent experience. Now this isnt to say that its a work suited for Ritual only, it can be just as enjoyable to the casual listener that appreciates stygian, Ambient music.
However this collaboration came to be, my hat goes off to you. Its one of the better collaborations Ive heard regardless of genre, and the production work from Billy Anderson doesnt hurt at all. As stated on the Malignant website, this release was created to assist the practitioner of a form of Tibetan Buddhism known as Chöd tap into the power of fear.