Vestigial – Translucent Communion

Cold Meat Industry (CMI183), 2008

There’s a good deal of dark ambient music that doesn’t have that certain it – that ingredient, factor, sense of place and myth.  While this music certainly well-done and effective, it lacks that certain element of mix of elements that causes the composition to transcend drone or noise or drawn-out melody and become something else.  Something that dares you to turn away.  Something that thrills.  Something that engages you deeply and on multiple levels, beyond just occupying earspace.  It speaks to you, transports you to places you didn’t know exist, acting as a catalyst and gateway.  It’s for this experience that I roam the shadowed landscapes of dark ambient, and when I find what I seek, it makes the search worthwhile.

Translucent Communion is such an album.  I realize the dark ambient experience can be very subjective, but there’s something magnetic about this album that make other efforts seem sterile.  The anthemic opener “Anthropic Uncreation” contains enough stirring drama to fill entire albums, and yet it moves, drawing us along in its majestic wake.  “The Coming”, with its processed drones and evolving bass, is somehow haunting and revelatory, with just a glimpse of angels in its closing moments.  “The Geometry” moves between silence and sample-studded void; it’s equal parts gentle and looming.  In these three tracks, Vestigial touches upon the transcendent, the profound, and the banal, and does so in both heavy and minimal fashion.  Many dark ambient albums shift over time, but few do so with such conviction and purpose.

A helicopter-like whirring dominates “The Void”, while more distorted vocal samples wax and wane.  I normally find such samples distracting, but here, they give the experience humanity, grounding it by imparting the sense the listener is not the first to enter these places.  There’s a near-palpable sense of otherness throughout Translucent Communion; many albums fit their drones into a concept, but not this one – at least, not entirely.  We have the album title and track names to work with, and that’s it.  I can only imagine what Vestigial must have been imagining when creating these sonic sensations.

“Primordial Communication” dials things down a bit, with a subdued wave flowing sluggishly, bearing along more buried samples.  Before long, booming drums enter the space, making the atmosphere tribal and portentous.  Who is communicating with whom, or what?  “Anthropic Resonance” is the final track, and it wavers between quiet drones and sequences of roiling noise, until a single low tone slowly dissolves into nothingness.

Translucent Communion is an album that might sound standard when described, but it’s anything but typical.  Its success lies in how Vestigial takes the template established by others and then transcends it, doing so in a natural and seamless manner.  This is an album that definitely has that elusive it.

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