Siavash Amini & Matt Finney – Familial Rot (Umor Rex, 2016)


Returning to Umor Rex Amini finds himself conjoining his music with poetry once again, this time leaving behind the already established works of T.S Eliot and rather building upon the fresher words of collaborator Matt Finney, whose spontaneous creations form the foundations of each piece. Filled with the same unsettling drones we’ve come to know and love, Familial Rot looks on track to be Amini’s bleakest record thus far.

As we proceed through the four tracks a brief story begins to emerge, one filled with ghosts of a recent past and an outwardly idyllic family scene crumbling quietly from within. “Whole Summer” immerses us swiftly but softly, its darkling echoic drone vistas glowing with a distant radiance and a tantalising sense of impending troubles. All of the pieces with the exception of “Halcyon” begin with this gestation period, creeping upon us to set the scene for Finney’s spoken word passages.

“If you’re gonna hold my hand I could take a life like this

I could feel at ease for a little while”

A lightness rises after his recital, a current of drone hopefulness that swims in and out of view, ultimately becoming drowned out by the blacker voice of reality in its crushing surf of white noise and static, burning away dreams into an uncertain conclusion, a twinkling blackness that sounds like the warbling spaces we hear so often on EUS releases.

“Your Daughters” then makes sure that it doesn’t give any false impressions and sets itself dark right from the outset, awash in crinkling static and woozy guitar drone, transmuting into calamitous tollings of unknown origin, klaxons firing alongside the warped voices of children before Finney’s utterances whisper huskily out of the soup. “I told you the night before I dreamt both of their deaths” he speaks flatly, “I heard them calling out for us, drowning out everything”. The piece starts to exude a feeling of rural Americana at twilight, dogs barking distantly in the unsettled blue hour, an eerie quiet descending over proceedings in the dying light of the cool guitar.

Night begins to settle rapidly in “Halcyon” though, Finney arriving quickly amidst a claustrophobic mugginess and smeared TV nothings, time stalling as it often does in the evenings, opening the mind up to all sorts of unwanted thoughts. It’s granted the longest runtime of all the pieces and it uses it well, stretching out in uncomfortably long passages of hauntingly inscrutable drone, lightly impressing upon the senses as it hovers just out of reach. At its peak it’s heady and consumptive, but really extremely refined in its melancholia as it yearns and hopes for a better time, never able to disconnect from its sense of persistent failure.

Which leaves only the barren suffocations of final “Coyote”. Immediately it burns with a suffocating miasma of electric bass distortions, thrumming in textural oppression at the record’s nadir. The curtains slowly part to give Matt a moment for his speech, words suspended in the vacuum with a parched raspiness:

“You had your back turned and I just watched you for a minute-”

“That was the last time anything was ever okay”

The ghosts of his poetry reverberate out and linger for what seem like hours afterwards, thin drones sailing in remorse carrying unspoken baggage. Before the lights go out it erupts into life one final time, a cacophonic pulse of black corruption filled with consuming noise waves and molten bass that overrun the senses, a final battery of misery that disassembles body and mind like a shotgun blast before the nothingness.

Neat and diffuse, obvious and ambiguous, loud and quiet, it covers the gamut. Don’t approach this feeling like you already know what to expect because you’re wrong, and Familial Rot will quickly prove to you just how complex and nuanced it is.