Review: AuditorxCrowhurst – Suppression

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Auditor’s sound is one entrenched in several musical worlds without neatly fitting into any one in particular; at once too rooted in metal to be cast as “drone” or “noise” and too electronic-oriented to be called any “metal” derivative. Crowhurst occupy a similar nether region between genre boundaries. Since 2011, Jay Gambit’s obscenely prolific project has put out dozens of releases in nearly as many styles—Crowhurst’s Bandcamp page boasts sixty full-lengths, EPs, splits and collaborations, each showcasing a wildly different sound. Needless to say, the results of the two working together were certain to be unpredictable from the outset.

Suppression forms around itself a complete musical ecosystem drawing from many worlds, straddling boundaries to envelop the listener and deliver a unique sense of alien familiarity. Superficial parallels may be drawn to other artists like Theologian, Compactor, or the Vomit Arsonist (all of whom had remixes on Auditor’s first full-length Form Destroyer), but this album stands firmly alone.

In a word, Suppression is captivating. As an album, it functions essentially on two levels: the visceral and the cerebral. By nature, the former is the more obvious on a first listen. At its core, this is a noise album, and as such each track is constructed primarily from monolith walls of blizzard-like sound stacked miles high. Taken as such, Suppression can work as an endurance test for the unprepared listener. Though only 43 minutes long, the unwavering surface qualities can be daunting. While not outwardly aggressive in delivery, the crux of the album is certainly abrasive.

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But for all the external muscularity on display, every note is wielded with finesse and texture in spades. The fundamental sonic building blocks of the album are merely the means to an end; this is where the album’s second layer of meaning comes into play. Attempting to transliterate the conceit of music and its supremely subjective effect on each individual listener is no small feat, and not one at which this reviewer considers himself to have any skill. The appeal of Suppression is completely indescribable. Suppression concerns itself with the cavernous space between the notes.The robustly obstreperous weight of the album is fashioned with phenomenal expressivity such as to assimilate and astound; the resulting balance is paramount in crafting the core of the album.

This meticulously-kempt coalescence of the raucous and the refined is what gives Suppression its soul and makes it such fantastic listening. Where Form Destroyer tempered its punishing doom with dubby ambient passages, Suppression constrains itself  to humming black holes of heavy noise. And “heavy” is the operative word: while Form Destroyer concerned itself with blunt musical violence, Suppression is a jet engine sucking up and shredding everything in it path. But though its brusque exterior may ward off the faint of heart, those that stick with the album for its complete ride will reap its considerable rewards. Individual tracks become largely inconsequential: this is big picture listening at its finest.

That’s not to say, of course, that the individual tracks are devoid of their own highlights—Matron Thorn of Ævangelist and Benighted in Sodom makes particularly remarkable contributions to album opener “Your Hallowed Souls”—but each moment is granted new transcendence in the context of the album as a whole. It’s tempting to give this album a minor *flush* for its unwavering commitment to texture over any other element, but one can’t fault the singularity of vision on display.

Ultimately, this is an album best described as “gratifying.” Mired in inaccessibility, Suppression makes for an unfathomably deep, far-from-easy listen, but each play reveals new details, proffering ever further pieces of the puzzle unto the listener. I can’t claim to have yet unlocked every secret of the album—I may never—but Suppression is by all means worth the effort.

NO FLUSH

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Suppression is out now. Buy it from Bandcamp and keep up with Auditor and Crowhurst on Facebook.

 

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