Charles Wright / Guillermo Pizarro - _Handsome God Within Us_
(Seven 1878, 2014)
by: Dan Lake (6.5 out of 10)
Honesty first: you don't need this review. Music reviews are usually meant to help you decide how to spend your disposable income (or, as in my case, rent-would-be-nice-but-it's-gone-now income). How do you choose between the new, possibly soon-to-be classic psych-death album that everyone'll be talking about next week, and the debut by Rwandan black metal upstarts Slutanus with that bitchin' slaughter-porn cover art? Roll on over to Chronicles of Chaos, or to any of our flashy-sited ad-ridden illiterate non-peers, to compare those albums' relative levels of awesomeness. We wouldn't steer you wrong. We promise.

Here's the thing, though. You can get _Handsome God Within Us_ for fucking free. No money down, zero APR, and low-low payments of an hour's worth of your attention whenever you care to give it. So, no real risk here. And if you don't need this review, then why should you read it?

Because you need this review. Did you know about this noise-drone-found-sound recording before you checked out this review? See? Without reviews like this, how will you even know that such things as Slutanus exist? (They don't, I made them up, but admit it -- you were two pages of Google results deep before you got to this paragraph.)

_Handsome God Within Us_ presents a lopsided division of runtime between Guillermo Pizarro and Charles Wright, and their two very different approaches to deviant sound will determine how much of the split you spend your time with. Pizarro kicks off the album with four tracks in less than fifteen minutes. His obsession lies with the seven-layer-dip style of noise fuckery; the sounds on top belie draw your ears down through darker sounds beneath and between. Feedback screams through undulating bass drones, reverberating guitar string torture flaps around shuddering scrapes of scrap metal and other objects. "Lilya in Minsk, Belarus" plays out like a new age Sunn O))) piece, accompanied by Gleb Kanasevich's keening clarinet and vocals that are alternately calm/clean and heavily treated. The various strata of texture constantly shift and weave new patterns. These tracks are tight, concise statements that never allow ideas to run too long. In fact, it's tempting to suggest that maybe some sections here would be interesting for longer, though "leave 'em wanting more" is an admirable maxim itself.

Wright's contributions run far to the other end of the spectrum. Tracks are often minimalist to the extreme, and long. Long. Loooooooooooooooong. Each of the three presented here clocks in at about 13 minutes, and judgment about the results should be reserved until their intent (or yours) can be ascertained. As far as their ability to grant musical satisfaction through attentive listening, these pieces are a bit shallow. Any real motion that is present tends toward the shimmer of reflections on water or the swaying of creekside reeds, rather than the tectonic crumbling of the bank and its attendant waterway into a ravenous abyss, as represented by Pizarro's work. As an aural basis for tranquil contemplation, however, Wright's work offers a banquet of possibility in these very distinct sections. "Hymn to the Fading Light" builds slowly, dramatically from running water and soft percussion into a bowed duet not far afield from Stars of the Lid. "Ashen Hues from Beyond the Veil" dwells in the steady thickening of a solitary tone. Final track "Within" swirls a ghost-laden wind through a nocturnal hollow, like a less terrified T.O.M.B.

_Handsome God_ is not metal... though, insofar as it exists and was constructed from real stringed instruments and jagged shards of emotion rather than bored imagination, it's still more metal than Slutanus.


(article published 22/7/2014)

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