REVIEW: The Gray Field Recordings - "As One Cast Down By Sadness"

By Mike Ventarola

Chain Border

With the underground world of music in a constant state of flux and change there seems to be a fractioning going on deep within. Some are veering more towards dance/disco EBM styles, others are veering more towards the cacophonous sounds of 12 garbage trucks grinding during the midnight hour and yet others seek a more cerebral and avant garde approach where electronic sounds are made to sound organic, while organic sounds are meant to sound more mechanical in nature. R Loftiss, the mastermind behind The Gray Field Recordings, created a dark world of surrealistic and nightmarish landscapes not unlike what has been heard on the brilliant A Murder of Angels recordings.

Chimed opens this disc with the subtle singing of what seems to be a crystal bowl brought to an eerie octave. Shimmers of sound are brought in as disembodied voices seem to call out from the dark via backward masking. Somber and morose gongs signify the approaching presence while other musical notes lament its double entendre. Keyboard affected violin notes play snippets of a mournful dirge, leading us into a crushing sense of sadness. This is not your next dance song kids, but it will make your environment that much more gloomy. Glintering lightens things a tad bit, but I utilize the word "lighten" cautiously. This is still a dark track. However vocal intonations and minor chord strokes suffused with a percussion of coffin banging help to create a nether world of a soul trapped between the light and dark essences of the nether regions of the unseen world.

The Gray Field RecordingsSwan's Lake (A child's sorrow in time) with its pre-requisite chimes from a child's wind up toy is given a reworking. The toy sounds are smeared and backward masked at points, thrust between gashes of horrific flourishes while disembodied elements come from the walls. Meadow Lark's takes simple strumming sounds, pours it through a macabre colander if you will, and provides a rather haunted yet almost classical piece. Despite the simplicity, there is much more going on with cellos and voices that simply add to the overall surrealistic quality. The vocal intonations, though sweet, are given such a ghostly apparition effect that the end result is nothing short of chilling. Rune Of The Moon and Endymion take a step back in time towards Dickens' old world England. A light is lit, voices are chanted and swirls of sound seem to encircle our environment. Other chants are smeared in the background that simply add to this darkened abyss. Metal-like percussive notes are in the background giving an almost voodoo quality. Justin Jones adds violin notes to further round out the heaviness of this track.

In the final analysis, The Gray Field Recordings are not your standard Goth fair for clubs. However, it is a remarkable burst of darkly inspired work that will simply aid with the creation of a gloomy abode. For fans of work such as heard with A Murder of Angels, you will simply delight that something of this caliber has made its way to your home.

In spite of the proliferation of all this dance music that seems to be coming up in the ranks it is refreshing to hear artists delving into their dark muse to create the environmental landscape of a gloomy surrealistic world that was once held so dear to the Gothic underground. There is absolutely nothing here that will make you want to tap your foot. There are no discernable lyrics in which you can sing along. Instead, you are given a body of sound/music meant to create a cinematic landscape that helps to haunt your waking reality.

This is a sad recording, but not in the traditional sense that would make the listener run out of handkerchiefs in a short period. It is the essence of sorrow that has simply traveled through the ages, picking up a random passenger along the way. This sense of solemnity has no beginning and certainly no ending. Like many universal truths, it just "is," and as such has been picked up and translated via a sound medium. For those who simply must bask in the dark glow of sorrow, The Gray Field Recordings simply delivers.

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