Regosphere / Xiphoid Dementia – Subterranean Transmigration CD (2014 ANNIHILVS & Phage Tapes)
This is a 2014 split CD with Regosphere on tracks 1, 3, and 5; Xiphoid Dementia on 2, 4, and 6 – with the material coming from recordings done in 2011-2012. The artwork is beautiful in content as well as presentation; crystal-crisp photography of ice, caves and machinery populate the imagery, and it’s all professionally printed in full color on glossy stock, as this is a jewel case non-CDR release likely produced in quantity of 300 or more. Annihilvs and Phage Tapes did an excellent job presenting these two artists’ work.
I’ve been familiar with Regosphere / Andrew Quitter for about 5 years, and his label Dumpsterscore Home Recordings. Andrew also has roots in Illinois, in Peoria, which is only about 30 minutes from the small town I grew up in. With Andrew I feel a type of mid-western solidarity. It has been our plight to be birthed into this grayed and constricting environment, and it is our compulsion to noisily soothe / exorcise the demons and neuroses thereby incurred. Andrew’s sound work began in 1998 with his power electronics / noise / industrial project Suburbia Melting. He retired this project in 2012, continuing onward with the Regosphere moniker instigated in 2007. Since 2003, his label Dumpsterscore has released more than 100 recordings on various formats by artists such as Robe, Shalocins, Andreas Brandal, Chefkirk, Swamp Horse, Lavas Magmas, Flesh Coffin, Cracked Dome, and Cory Schhumacher. He has also released a number of drone / ambient works under his own name. Throughout his many projects, Andrew demonstrates a fantastic audio production ear and sense for the aural realization of dark psychological territories.
Regosphere begins the disc with “Psychic Surgery (Second Procedure)”, a dark science fiction wrongness built of a deep droning synth, numerous sharp digital flitterings, shrieking / howling voice and other hallucinatory textures. High pitched modulating electronic textures maintain a sweeping/swooping staticky cloud as the venomous distorted shrieking exercises itself alongside a recurring metallic clang. An amount of the high frequencies sound reversed, so there are intricacies of texture that reveal themselves in each moment, like listening to a stream of water as its microscopic clicks, plops and trickles change their aural shape.
On his next track, (#3) “The Devil’s Icebox”, Regosphere posits an excellent ambient-industrial doom drone piece, which at its apex features subliminally shiver-inducing frequency shift and/or panning. Fizzing and high freq. wavy pulses echo in all directions. An irregular electronic bass drum thump keeps non-time. Distorted scraping, jangling of fibrous metals, distant eerie tones; all fluctuating, trying out various positions, juxtaposing placement in the stereo field, spreading themselves out like fungus. There is the feeling of a mindless insidiousness bent on infection and degradation. I am drawn to think of creatures annihilating each other with no second thought, parasitic infections that make disgusting macabre spectacles of their hosts, bottom-feeders who relish the consumption of putrified organic matter. This music speaks to me of the instinctual, unquestioned, unstoppable urge to drag downward – degrade – destroy – corrupt – poison – kill – consume – spoil.
On track 5 he does a somewhat quieter piece focusing on more minute textures, putting the listener afloat in a contemplative darkness. Electronic drones resembling distorted guitar weave throughout a morphing panorama of field recordings, tape manipulation, metals, and higher frequencies of electronics.
Xiphoid Dementia is Egan Budd, who also leads the Existence Establishment net zine & label. He has been doing Xiphoid Dementia since 1999, releasing only a handful of albums between 2005 and now. (None shown @ Discogs between 1999 and 2005 – Discogs knows all.)
Xiphoid arrives at track 2 with a piece called “Despondency Aquifer”. This is dark ambient psychedelia that brings Clive Barker, Coil, Lustmord, and other great dark ambient or heady occult-flavored artists to mind. This piece is a dreamlike technological / psychological crackup ritual; an intense inter-dimensional mind-bend, an incredible agoraphobic paranoia, terrifying disembodiment, etc. The production is crisp and has a digital feel. There seems to be a mixed aesthetic in this track that includes recordings from both high and low fidelity sources, or perhaps it’s just that there are mic-recorded as well as direct-line-recorded sources. At about half way through the 10+ minutes of the track, the pummeling of drums begins. Feverish drum pounding weaves in and out of an increasingly dense cloud of fearful dream-drone. Punctuations of snare drum occasionally double up on the bed of deep floor tom sounds. The piece eventually fades out the drumming and over-arching drones, giving way to the more atmospheric elements of pensively clanged metals and electronic nightmare / breakdown-in-reality church bell, all clothed in cathedral-sized reverbs.
Track 4 – Xiphoid Dementia’s “Beneath the Foundation”, is a sparse dark atonal ambient piece with intermittent heavily reverbed screaking, rumbling, shifting tones which rise and/or fall, and a small amount of sampled electronics. It’s an environment pic which auditorily visualizes vast interiors in states of disrepair, ominousness abound.
On the final track (#6), “Mineral Ressurrection”, Xiphoid Dementia continues on the subtler current initiated by Regosphere’s “Coffin Dust”. This piece has a deliberately arranged quality to it, with movements and swells of tension which give way to relief, and once again climb back up to mystically gloomful assemblies of texture and tonality. I’m reminded of some certain instrumental segments of SPK that I’ve heard, though Xiphoid’s piece here is heavier and more abrasive. His pieces on this album also remind me somewhat of one of my favorite industrial albums, Wake of Devastation by Decree. For that matter, there are probably more similarities to instrumental works by Front Line Assembly or Delerium – both of which Decree’s central figure, Chris Peterson, was a member. The similarities to these artists in Xiphoid’s work are contained in the clean / beautiful audio production, carefully placed synth textures, spacious reverbs, sparkling electronics, consistent use of line overload, and thunderous enunciations with timpani / massive percussion. It breaks rank from the other pieces, which have mostly a slowly evolving pattern of behavior. In the other pieces, the elements tend sneak in slowly, build on themselves, shift and change shape. This piece has a discernible structure, albeit an irregular one, with a few distinct sections. At its height, there are short 2-to-4-tone motifs played in synth tones that recur and reflect each other, with sculpted pauses and dynamic builds adding to the significance of each tonal / textural statement. The artist has excellently balanced the etherial space-tones pronounced in shimmering lazer-synth against the deep viscous rumbling synth which rolls in with each wave of timpani and noise. This final piece is an excellent closer to an impressive and perfectly proportioned dual-artist release.
Of the two artists, I would put Regosphere closer to Earth, whereas Xiphoid Dementia delves into other dimensions and psychic territories overlapping those of Earth. Both artists are speaking of similar notions in their work, of course, and this disc is a great encapsulation of the overlap between their respective creative patterns.