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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Perceptual Defence Emotional Ruins (2023)

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

A dark ambient work to be savored alone, because every perception is unique to us!

CD1 Emotional Ruins 73:44

1 Emotional Ruins - Part One 4:10

2 Emotional Ruins - Part Two 11:17

3 Emotional Ruins - Part Three 14:15

4 Emotional Ruins - Part Four 11:00

5 Emotional Ruins - Part Five 16:53

6 Emotional Ruins - Part Six 16:06

CD2 Journey of Illusions 74:45

7 Journey of Illusions - First Illusion 14:15

8 Journey of Illusions - Second Illusion 11:58

9 Journey of Illusions - Third Illusion 13:04

10 Journey of Illusions - Fourth Illusion 11:43

11 Journey of Illusions - Fifth Illusion 12:22

12 Journey of Illusions - Sixth Illusion 11:23

(DDL/2CD-(r) 148:29) (V.F.)

(Dark ambient psychedelic music)

Here's an album for lovers of gloomy, of dark ambient music. EMOTIONAL RUINS is the latest offering from Perceptual Defence, a double CD produced and distributed by German label SynGate Records and its Luna division. The album follows on from another album of Dark Ambient psychedelic electronic music, Aldebaran Star, which Gabriele Quirici has been offering on his Bandcamp platform since last September. The idea behind EMOTIONAL RUINS goes back as far as 2004, when Gabriele and his wife were experimenting with different sources of sound after the birth of their first daughter. In fact, the couple were trying to record and manipulate samples and strange sounds to create an ambient album focused on emotional moments. After 17 years, Gabriele Quirici decided to remaster this assemblage of sounds, which also served as the soundtrack for a Butoh dance performance entitled « N » by their friend Alessandro Pintus, to make of it a first CD release with its original title EMOTIONAL RUINS. This is a work of ambient, stagnant music as black as ebony mixed with the ashes of darkness, in a universe of sonic strangeness where industrial dust and matter flirt with a light organic veil, as seraphic in places. It's on the scale of Perceptual Defence, and it's not for all ears. You've got to love dark ambiences and triturated sounds! The second CD, Journey of Illusions, has already been released as a download album on Perceptual Defence Bandcamp in 2021. I wrote about it in June of this year. Quite the opposite of Emotional Ruins, this is a longer and more meditative electronic symphonic composition that was improvised and divided into 6 movements entitled Illusions. The Ying and Yang! The black and white!

A hollow breeze blowing with greater velocity opens the dimensions of EMOTIONAL RUINS with a first sonic chapter that flirts with the 4-minute mark. Slowly, the breezes become pellet-carrying, transforming into a linear symphony of hollow, goosebump-inducing ululations. Intriguing background noises, such as footsteps or oozing water, roars (can metal crumple with ectoplasmic voice effects?) crackles and finally a spectral spoken line add to this tenebrous symphony. Perceptual Defence immediately establishes its signature as the new undisputed masters of gloomy, murky music with a strong psychedelic accent in the opening moments of its long act Emotional Ruins. The winds take on a more organic texture as Emotional Ruins - Part Two opens. They buzz with non-human cries that seem to want to escape. The effect of this mass of sound simulates a long, slow descent where agony seems to be the ultimate goal. Waves detach themselves from these winds to undulate in parallel, as if grumbling dissimilarly. Drones take root. They undulate like arabesques of distortion in a cynical hymn to dissonance. Carried along by the power of the roaring drones, the movement remains more linear than undulating, giving greater relief to these inhuman voices that squeak as much as howl. A zone of disturbance rises around the 5-minute mark, plunging Emotional Ruins - Part Two into a phase of white noises and juxtaposed drone wave fluctuations. The second phase of this 2nd act flirts with the dimensions of horror with organic screeches and the ululations of mechanical beasts. Our flayed ears slide into a distinctly more ethereal phase in Emotional Ruins - Part Three. Here, the waves hum like a long, continuous reverberation of Tibetan gongs. More crystalline filaments float in around the 5-minute mark, when the ambiences return to the abyss sung from the opening of Emotional Ruins. Footsteps, whispers, crackles and other sound effects bordering on paranoia adorn this segment, where the song of a cicada amplified as a strident screech rises to take our senses into another zone of sonic darkness. Howlings of cabalistic horns are raging around the 9-minute mark, imitating the alarm sirens that herald catastrophe in the world of aluminum-born lycanthropes.

This symphony of dissonance, in which the winds are like infernos fed with steel granules, spans the 6 chapters of the first Emotional Ruins CD. Admittedly, there are phases of rhythms. Like the opening of Emotional Ruins - Part Four, where successive beats, combining skin and sheet metal, drum under a pearly sky of incandescent howls and distant train whistles. The result is a delightfully musical and driving 6 minutes in this odyssey of drones and screaming metal. The rest is confusion in the instruments on offer, I hear effects of strings being plucked ardently, where the whistle blows are like signals to guide the one-eyed blind. The lapping water of the finale cradles our ears until the opening of Emotional Ruins - Part Five, where the flow flirts with a flood. Gabriele Quirici plays with sounds and their sampling to form implosions that simulate an abstract rhythm. Layers of wiisshh and waasshh and white noises are added, forming a new form of rhythmic impulse without rhythm. Water! There's water everywhere right up to the edge of the 10th minute, where the drones have a fascinating human voice texture. It's the storm before a relative calm, if being in an icy cavern deep in Tibet enchants your perceptions. Here, the monks are skeletal, and their incantations emerge from their hollow orbits. Like thousands of holes making the winds sing. It's a moment of meditation cut from the rough! Drones, like strings rubbing an out-of-tune cello, structure a slow movement in which the drones seem to waltz just before crashing into the ice floes of nothingness. Where new winds howl again, and the screeching of ectoplasmic voices hesitates between the warmth of poetry and the coldness of silvery-blue metal. From the depths of the Earth's bowels, we are brought back to life with the cries of child-seagulls who marvel at the falls and the rustles they make. From there, the 16 minutes of Emotional Ruins - Part Six take us into Stephen Parsick's cryonic universe, more specifically his Doombient series. There's a lot of luminosity, and it's icy, in this opening where the hum of the falls becomes a long, tenebrous homily blown by gigantic cheeks full of holes. The sounds display their dissidence with nuances that flirt with either celestial acuity or the blackness of a singing coal. Quietly, this first symphony in EMOTIONAL RUINS' musical play of 2 long acts falters, only to recover on new stridencies, waterfalls and the wonder of child-gulls, which are in fact the first lamentations of Gabriele Quirici's first daughter, two minutes after her birth.

EMOTIONAL RUINS is a psychedelic dark ambient music at its best! An immensely dark work at the dimensions of Perceptual Defence's signature, whose genesis lies more in the feelings of its authors than in our level of perception. I found in it a form of human agony that flirts more with the horror of despair than anything else. It's intense, bordering on the depressing, and demands an unparalleled curiosity for sounds and the way they are triturated. To be enjoyed alone, because every perception is unique to us!

Sylvain Lupari (October 27th, 2023) *****

Available at SynGate Bandcamp

(NB: Texts in blue are links you can click on)

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