I get a pretty fair amount of music from Ryan Huber, and each time I receive another release, I can be sure that what I’m going to hear will, to a noticeable degree, be different in approach from what came prior. Granted, it’s usually pretty dark and always has a strong impressionistic aspect, but he’s never content to do the same thing over. On …And Now They Are Gone, he teams up with artist and field recording gatherer Erik Waterkotte and descends into a purely atmospheric space of impressive grimness and near-industrial heaviness. Needless to say, if you’re not looking for experimental work that largely eschews a musical approach and opts instead for a shot of pure viscera, this is not the place you want to be. It’s a an eight-song, 38-minute bit of sonic spelunking into shadowy spots where things creak, gurgle, hiss, and slowly close in on you. It can be claustrophobic, but at the same time, the spaces the duo describe in sounds compel the closest possible examination. Where I find the album at its most potent, oddly enough, are those places when it hits its most sparse. Slow-moving, minimal constructs such as parts IV and VIII (all tracks are titled “…antag: part ____”) reconcile into bits of dark respite, less about grit and texture and weight than a drawing down of the listener’s consciousness to a deeper place within the flow. These sections balance the pieces that pack a bit more fist. Along the way, Huber and Waterkotte opt for a hard stop at the end of tracks, a technique that doesn’t always work here. And it’s clear to me that some folks would be totally put off by things like the insistent dial-tone electronic pulse that hammers at your head for the last several seconds of part IX. I know it threw me off the first few times. But, as noted, …And Now They Are Gone is not for casual listeners. Huber’s work never is. For listeners with an ear for experiment, or ready for a bit of out-of-body disconnect, albeit in a dark and gritty way, this short ride runs deep.
Available from Bandcamp.