Electric Sound Bath – Secular Liminality (2015)

Secular Liminality Front Cover

Following the demand for live performances of GREYGHOST’s haunting drone works, Brian Griffith has paired up with Angela Wilson in the duo that is Electric Sound Bath to further ensconce the ideas and feelings of mindful meditation and serenity found in Brian’s previous work. While still fundamentally centred around the smearing of the electric bass, field recordings and acoustic instrumentation (gongs, bells) find themselves incorporated into the mix in this record accompaniment to the recent solar eclipse; whilst that is the thematic device of the album, Brian and Ang take great pains to point out that the technological and scientific predilections involved, not only in the production of the sound but also in the eclipse event itself, are not mutually exclusive from the ability to be moved spiritually by these things, regardless of any inherent secularity.

The only track that really doesn’t make this feel like a straight-up GREYGHOST production is the opener “LVNΔR RITUΔL”; although that bass drone does have some footing, inseminating the darkness that ultimately pervades the record, it finds itself fragmented and compartmentalised in cyclic movements, tidal motions separated from each other by distinct and clear tollings from the gongs, each occurrence louder and more defined than the last, drawing us in and gathering us together as we turn our eyes skyward in preparation for the event about to unfold. “CELESTIΔL GΔZE” is that track, leaving behind the groundedness and rhythmic extolling of the opener in favour of more ethereal drone dominated sequences, losing its strength as it gazes towards the heavens, fading away into faint and delicate passages that embrace the scale of the Universe above, our presence a tiny and helpless speck suspended in the big dark, unable to reach out to the stars except in our dreams.

“NOCTURNΔL PREDOMINΔNCE” follows a similar yet fundamentally distinct path, beginning with a dense, wavering haze of that same bass drone but quickly falling away into a thin cruise of dark sound, the entire entity languishing in the brilliance of night and the celestial glow that accompanies it, the luxuriously deep pool of maintained sound the heavenly abyss, awash with the distant light of a million stars impossibly suspended, their ancient light visible only when our own homely Sun falls behind the horizon. This collapse into prescribed reverie rolls over into the impossibly minimalistic closer “LVNA TIDE”, the fluidic motions of insubstantial bass drone becomingly increasingly quiet and calm as we continue to fall into deep thought. There’s a hint more life and light here than its predecessor though, some minute sense of achievement and purpose peeking through the serene veil, especially towards its closing moments as acoustic tones and electronic twinklings sparkle fleetingly as the moment passes, little fragments of meaningful memory of which to remember the moment by.

Although it was in some ways designed to be a sonic experience to assist in the watching of the eclipse, it has its own storyline and timed migration, each track instilling a certain additional level of introspective peace yet providing a meaningful arc. It’s not often that I’m really forced to stop what I’m doing and devote almost my entire attention to a record but in the case of Secular Liminality its purpose and presentation leaves little choice in the matter, but to its credit it is an engaging and beauteous journey. Cool, crisp, cruising drones with a pointed thematic edge: what more could you want?