February 18, 2021

The melodies are often sparse and the rhythms frequently difficult to discern even when they exist; instead, the emphasis is on long-held notes, drones, and other extemporaneous elements. The composition of said group is Tom Bush on electric guitar and treatments, Liz Paxton on cello, Katie Murt on drums and percussion, and Ellen Southern on voice, psaltery, live sound textures, and tambourine. According to the group, this set of recordings is all new and unreleased material. This is not to say that moments of joy do not emerge from time to time. Nonetheless, the overall impression that Hagioscope Obscura leaves upon the listener is one of noisy ambiance and dread. Intrigued, I explored their catalog a bit and settled on this album. Their approach is hard to describe because it spans several subgenres: medieval music, dark ambient, discordant textural improv, electroacoustic, and probably a couple more. This is a compelling and unclassifiable recording from a very intriguing group. Bush, Paxton, and Murt vary between unstructured improvisation and more orderly approaches, while Southern’s voice is plaintive, wailing, and evocative. Exceptions occur, however, when Southern takes on one of the covered songs and the group strays closer to conventionality (even fuzzed out riffing from Bush). Their music is what might result if Dead Can Dance went to hell and then came back possessed with a need to make walls of sound. Thumbs way up. They play atmospherically, each contributing in a mostly-subdued fashion to the overall effort. AMN Reviews: Dead Space Chamber Music – Hagioscope Obscura (2020; Bandcamp)

February 17, 2021February 17, 2021 ~ Mike

I first came across UK-based Dead Space Chamber Music on the Yig compilation. Indeed, the credited influences on these two long tracks include Guillaume de Machaut, Edgard Varèse, Hildegard von Bingen, Sycamore Trees as performed by Jimmy Scott, as well as several traditional, devotional, and love songs. Subtitled “DSCM lockdown live streams”, Hagioscope Obscura was recorded and released last year during March and June, as the pandemic was in full force.


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