Formless and endless. When dealing with drone music, these are two elements you need to take into consideration. With a deep understanding and experience of the genre and experimental music, Aaron Turner, of SUMAC and a myriad other projects, and William Fowler Collins collaborate in the avant-drone project Thalassa. Taking influence from the Greek mythology, and the primordial personification of the sea, Turner and Collins have definitely chosen an appropriate name for their sonic endeavors, which they unveil with their debut album, Bonds of Prosperity.
It is not uncommon to see the connection of drone music to an elemental, or even environmental, quality. The soundscapes that slowly morph can guide the imagination into magical spaces. Deserts, mountainside, plains, oceans and whatever else the composer can produce. With Thalassa, their music is based on such textures, retaining a loose structure and arrangement, dwelling into the underlying essence of drones and noise, crafting the surrounding scenery. The opening track reveals the different shades of Thalassa, which mirrors the sea itself. Harsh and relentless, presenting walls of sound, and then moving to subtler interpretations of noise, it is a work that moves glacially even though perception makes it appear on a standstill.
Bonds of Prosperity is a minimal album in that aspect, not only in the instrumentation used, but also on its progression. Repetition is used as a means of hypnosis, building a mesmerizing space, inducing trance-like states. The closing track of the record exemplifies this notion, with Thalassa slowly introducing new sounds over the existing foundations, at the same time pressuring to an asphyxiating level with the low-frequency drones. As minimally as the work has started, it spirals down an endless path into chaos, resulting in a hellish moment of harsh noise and distorted growls, fading into the unconscious.
It is typical for drone acts to implement a dark narrative, thank the low end for that. But Thalassa move dive into a melodic sub-dimension of the norm, not relying only on the claustrophobic representation of the genre. In the ending of “Pitted Aegis” they introduce their polymorphic ability, creating a perfect contrast with the earlier harsh noise. And a second intricacy of the duo, is the openness to deviate from their minimal roots. That is highlighted in one of the strongest moments of the album, “Face Obscure” where the soundscapes are disrupted with an echoing processed scream, which completely unravels the scenery. It acts as a drop from the reality of the record, a rude awakening to a different plane of existence, one that repeats through the track always having that magnificent effect.
Bonds of Prosperity presents a wonderful perspective on drone. At first listen it might appear just as a typical drone record, but when you begin to pay attention to the details, the glory of Thalassa begins to unfold.
8.0 / 10
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