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Shane Morris & Mystified, Epoch

June 29, 2012

The really good news is that Epoch, the first collaboration between Shane Morris and Mystified, is the first of a planned “trilogy about prehistoric time and evolution.” Having gone very deep into this mix of strictly organic drones and touches of tribal ambient, I can say that this series is off to a very good start. Dronemeister Thomas Park, aka Mystified, a man whose passion is taking any sound he can get his gear on and finding a way to stretch and meld it into new shapes, lays down a dense bed of tone. Shane Morris, whose recent forays into tribal, such as his excellent release, Equinox, have kept him high on my list of artists to watch, augments Park’s base with his own array of processed sounds, snarling didgeridoo and percussion. Much of the potency and earthy resonance of Epoch comes out of the artists’ decision to use only acoustic instruments in creating the drones, tones and pads at work here. The sources range from didg to vibraphone to trombone, all bent to the duo’s will and repurposed into four stunningly immersive tracks. This album is entirely about atmosphere. It’s not musical, it’s spatial. It’s the creation of sonic depth and sensation, of grinding out a pure and visceral response to sounds brought to bear en masse. It’s a pseudo-hypnotic trigger mechanism that sends our minds off into a richly imagined, thematically guided space. It is dense and humid and guttural and primitive and works its way into that eldest part of your brain and tries its best to wake it back up. And it is so very effective in what it sets out to do. Although every track here is rock solid and the disc overall is an amazing bit of darkly meditative soundcrafting, the centerpiece is the 21-minute “Devonia.” Words will absolutely fail to do service to this track. Morris’ didg curls and snarls and threatens even as it beckons you downward. The drones here seem to spin, vortex-like, to create an inexorable grasp. This is where your best bet is to simply give yourself over and listen to the duo build the sound around you, the density growing and waning over and over until you’re simply lost in the wonderful murk of sound. Epoch is a lights-out, headphones-on, make-time-for release. In terms of discs that strive solely for atmosphere, this is one of the best discs I’ve heard in years. And folks, it’s just the first of three to come out of this collaboration. The bar is set very high with Epoch; but I have no doubt that Mystified and Morris have only just begun to craft. An amazing album.

Available from Spotted Peccary.

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