From its first moment, Sky Burial’s new release, Pas the Sarvering Gallack Seas and Flaming Nebyul Eye throws its listener into a dizzying whirl of sound, setting them on an impressionistic journey that may simply confound some. But those who can stick with it will end up taking a ride that’s as diverse as it is weird, a balance of cacophony and thoughtfully constructed drone-spaces that combine to create vivid, if often challenging, sonic atmospheres. Composer Michael Page loads up on the sound sources in this hour-plus offering, then stacks them in weighty layers. What comes of it all is a set of dark and hypnotic washes of sound with real dimension–it’s in your face, it’s far off, it’s all around you. And here and there, up out of the churn, come odd sonic moments–the wail of bagpipes, for example, in “Na Fir Ghom.” Or perhaps you’re reeled in the by rhythmic bass pulse breathing through the comparatively quieter parts of “Vessel,” and you have to come to terms with the idea that this noise has its own kind of groove. Page does a great job of modulating the ride here. His denser, more aggressive storms, like the title track, are balanced by sparse stretches that take their weight from the dark feelings they evoke. The first several minutes of “The Longest Day Heralds the Darkness to Follow” churn with machine sounds and push along on long drones and pads. Its relative openness almost feels like breathing room, but it retains an edge of suspense that won’t let you relax into it. As is often the case with Page’s work, underneath everything is the sense that Something Is Not Right.
There’s no easy point of entry into Pas the Sarvering Gallack Seas and Flaming Nebyul Eye. It’s heavily abstract and somewhat off-putting if your tastes don’t run dark and experimental. However, it’s Page’s careful construction, his diversity of sound sources, and the measured hand on the tiller that makes the disc worth the effort. This isn’t noise for noise’s sake. It’s headed somewhere, and you have to be willing to take the good with the mad to get the most out of it.
Available from Sky Burial’s Bandcamp site.