OF (plus PENGO)
Luckily there's lot of stuff this week that's almost as good - and the almost-est is a dense slab of solo stuff from Thuja/Jewelled Antler pioneer Loren Chasse, under his current nom-de-fume Of. The excellently-titled Awful Cloud is on Yellow Swans' JYRK label, and it's four head-busting pieces of noise, drone, ambience, field recordings, primitive beat, dark atmosphere, and everything else this highly-accomplished sound-maker has long proven himself capable of. I'm no Thuja expert but have loved everything I've heard (and also think their whole nature aspect gets a bit overblown in their press, since they do a LOT more than that)...and Pine Cone Temples was one of the best records/albums/objects/etc of 2005, two discs of thoughtful aural mayhem that drew on a few influences, but still had a thick, idea-heavy aura that felt blindingly unique.
The Awful Cloud doesn't offer quite that heavy a drift (and was made all with conventional instruments - no rocks or sticks here), but it's pretty fucking close. The four tracks here are all very different, but what I like most is not the overall diversity, but how in each piece Chasse fully commits to a small range of sounds, rather than trying to make each into a look-what-I-can-do roller coaster...yet in doing so he actually divines a wider range of texture, tone, and nuance than he might've otherwise. Which is just to say the guy can find more in a single cloud of sound than most can in a year's worth of passing fronts.
The concept of what's "best" here is kinda nonsensical - I pretty much equally dig the way the four-minute "Psychotic Episode" recreates internal implosion through reddened guitar attacks that ring so hard they catch fire, the way the 17-minute "Human Absence" forges a sonic black hole with echoing tones that multiply and negate each other, and the way the closing, 11-minute "Cumulus Deceased" offers both optimistic relief through rising tones, and bittersweet denouement through stoic refusal to ever reach the mountaintop it seems to futilely seek like a droning Sisyphus. Still, it's hard to beat the opening "Uglich Bell," a cluttered web of crashing drums, ear-plugging metallics, and growling din that seems to ripple through the rest of the album long after its last bit of screech has finally decayed. That might be the best way to describe The Awful Cloud: every track seems to reflect into the other, like an undending series of cast stones causing an infinite loop of watery ripples.