Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Just spent a pleasant while listening to the latest releasee by b⋄tong. The CD album "Hostile Environments" on Italian label Greytone.
I was fortunate to play a couple of shows last year in Germany with b∘tong, aka Chris Sigdell, this was my introduction to his sound, although I did know his past work as a member of NiD and Feine Trinkers Bei Pinkels Daheim Spending a couple of days with Chris I found out that the name is derived from Betong, the Norwegian for concrete (Chris is part Norwegian) but there was a heavy metal band from Sweden already called Betong so Chris dropped an "e" and added the "degree symbol".
Chris is a soundscape artist, his sounds are gathered from field recordings, the sampling of non-musical devices and passing them through a multitude of sins (and effects boxes), radio voices and battered old synthesisers. (This was live anyway) … Fascinating to watch, mind blowing to listen to.
"Hostile Environments" is a very dark album. It has a vibration a certain drone of deep space. Track one "Stasis Field" with a wide static sound, disembodied voices and grand piano blending into "Processed" and post-apocalyptic rumblings. "Thepsis" has a feel of despair and abandonment with a voice questioning "what in blazes are you doing?". "Interference" is a gothic masterpiece - a house of dark shadows with a Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde awakening the beast within feel.
The album is a post-industrial dark ambient classic. For me it is there with Inade's "Aldebaran", Lustmord's "The Place Where The Black Stars Hang" and "Digitaria" by T.A.G.c. The final piece "Hemihypopiasia" is almost new age Kosmiche Elektronika with dolphins calling across space before ending with the wise words; "would you mind taking my sweater off?"
Chris has a b∘tong facebook page (he was forever checking his blackberry/smartphone or whatever) where there is a link to buy this beauty or go to www.greytone.bandcamp.com where it is available for download. Best album of 2014 so far!