Andrew Hock, of Psalm Zero and, until recently, incredible black metal outfit Castevet, has always seemed a very interesting case, as the two before mentioned bands would let on. And the same interest would be transferred over to the debut album that Hock is putting out under his own name, Crystalline Privative Opulence. With an extended pallet of instruments, including bass clarinet, alto flute, electronics and of course the guitar around which most of this album is based, Hock leads us on to his mesmerizing and haunting musical vision.
The drone side of Hock’s music raises its head from the very beginning of the album with the pace retaining its slow tempo and the hypnotic quality of the guitar laying the foundation of the song. But even though the ambiance is quite dense and there is a dark vibe about the opening song, Hock will still enrich its structure with some quite surprising melodic lines. From the quite sad but sweet opening lines the guitar parts will evolve into lighter melodies that lead the way and shed light within a dark body of work. The evolution of the sound from that aspect is quite surprising and it works brilliantly for Hock.
The use of repetition in the opening song further increases the hypnotic hold that the song has on you, but it actually is the way that Hock is able to combine the drone ambiance with other sonic aspects that makes for a great listen in this case. Soon enough the black metal parts are introduced within the track as Hock creates a great contrast between the more melodic, subtle bits and the black metal noise wall on the background. And still the overall texture of the song manages to retain a certain drone quality. The further evolution of the track into its most twisted and dissonant form does not come as a surprise but that does not mean it is even slightly less destructive. As the swirling noise parts settle in they do not let go until the reaches it end.
That leads to another surprise when the second track of the album comes in. At first the drones will once again settle in and mold the ambiance in the way that Hock seems fit, placing a dim quality over the music. The motifs carry on with their repetitive procedures as the song unfolds but then the melodic part of Hock’s music once again sneaks through. What starts as simply great phrases on the guitar, keeps evolving and gaining power and delivering more of an impact as the track progresses. Suddenly it seems like the song is aimed more towards an uplifting outcome rather than a dark offering, as was the case with the first track. The melodies are layered in a great manner and the way that they develop has a mystic quality about it. Even the more piercing sounds that are later introduced do not take anything away from the melodic bits but further enhance that part of Hock’s music.
Listening to Crystalline Privative Opulence I found a contrast in Hock’s work that I was not quite expecting. The more obscure sound that his other acts had can still be felt in the opening song of this record, but there is also another side. A side that is more melodic and lighter than one would expect. One thing is certain though, whichever side he finds himself tilting towards, it does not matter, because they both have their own merits and manage to work great in Crystalline Privative Opulence.
7.7 / 10
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