Monday, October 11, 2010

A Natural History of Failure

Re-posted from

The third Human Quena Orchestra album, A Natural History of Failure, was released on Utech Records this past week. The recording lineup consisted of Brandon Nickell (AEMAE, isounderscore), Jason Zeh, David Graham (Requiem), Matthew H. Reis (Teeth Collection), Renata Castagna (Samothrace, Black Christmas), and Ryan Unks. It is available directly through, and also from Aquarius Records, who had the following kind words to say about it:

"Part three in the Human Quena Orchestra's ever evolving sonic mission to create what could possibly be the darkest, and most intense post industrial metallic blacknoise EVER. Not like there's a lot of competition, and having worked our way now through all three records, even if there were any other outfits foolhardy to have a go at HQO, they'd most likely be dispatched in short order. As anyone who's heard either Means Without Ends or The Politics Of The Irredeemable can attest to. Easily, two of the bleakest, most abject and miserable collections of hellish hymns and burntblack dronescapes ever committed to tape. HQO's modus operandi is a combination of caustic black buzz, of pounding machine like percussion and howling anguished shrieked vokills, all wound tight into throbbing, churning, nightmarish chunks of jagged black filth, and crusty musical misanthropy. Think the usual suspects, Khanate, diSEMBOWELMENT, Winter, Skepticism, Esoteric, even Swans, and then tune it further down, slow it further down, pile on layer after layer of suffocating buzz, of oozing soul crushing low-end, and let it fester, and rot, and crumble and decay, and you'll begin to get close to the strange and sick soundworld of HQO.
A Natural History Of Failure finds HQO mastermind Ryan Unks, joined by a handful of likeminded volunteers, each adding their own secret ingredients to Unks' noxious brew, and weirdly enough, if anything, more players has not resulted in more sound, or more accurately, the sound itself does seem MORE, more dense, heavier, thicker, more filthy and fraught with emotional peril, but the songs, the structures, somehow seem even more minimal. The opening track is more a thick, pulsing drone, a dense layered funereal creep, the sounds burnt and blown out, a single riff slowed down to near static, and left to churn and chug in slow motion, while more and more buzz and thrum and hiss is piled on top, a sound so heavy and so dense, it seems constantly on the verge of collapse. The second track two is more drone than crush or pummel, beginning as a hushed distant throb, an impossibly deep low end that drifts beneath ethereal streaks of grey melody, processed voices, and textured whirs, the sound builds to a furious roil, only to settle back down into what sounds like a symphony of warped SUNNO))) records, being played simultaneously with the needle stuck in the runoff grooves. And so it continues, a warped tarpit drift, vocals only show up in track three, and even then, so low in the mix, they just sound like jagged shards of static, nearly suffocated by the heaving rumbles above.
The whole first half of the record is constant low end punishment, but part 5 is where it changes, a processed voice, stretched into a perpetual moan, a looped bit of human bred sonic texture, over a lumbering bit bit of low-end, soon subsumed by a dense cloud of corrosive hiss, of swirling white noise, which leads directly into the most minimal track on the record, a hushed minimal pulse, warm and languid, but still subtly menacing, laced with high end shimmer, and blurred tinkling melodies, leading you gently into a truly ominous and monstrous plod, a robotic pound, trudging along a series of deep buzzing swells, being slowly torn apart by some sort of static driven industrial grey noise demon, the sound rendered and recontextualized into a slowly stuttery field of deep whirs and jagged shards of crumbling static, before finally finishing off with a brief bit of muted beauty, again, the sound impossibly thick and heavy, but blurred into something almost shoegazey, but still grim and gorgeously hopeless."


I am thinking about getting my website going soon. Can I call it "On the Ruins of the Great Black Swamp?" or is that too long?