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1 August, 2008

I have mine! (Review: Molotov And Haze (Bass Communion, 2008))

Several releases by Bass Communion have been limited editions, typically only available by Headphone Dust (a mail order firm once thought to comprise just Steven Wilson (SW) himself and a stack of padded envelopes).  One could argue that demand is correspondingly low (a subset of the subset of people who acknowledge it to be music), but each release sells out rapidly.

By definition, the hardcore fans tend to know about releases early (though I try to spread the word here), and get their (our) orders in quickly, so Headphone Dust seem to recognise their regular customers by name.
For example, I ordered the eighth Bass Communion album, 'Molotov and Haze', slightly late: as mentioned, I was 'on tour' 17-26 July, and happened to be without a network connection in Aberdeen on the day ordering opened. I'd established that this album isn't limited – it's even available at Amazon – so wasn't worried, but HD seemed surprised by the delay: the padded envelope I received was annotated beside the return address: "Where were you?!" Amazon doesn't do that....

The album itself is wonderful...ish.
'Molotov and Haze' contains four pieces, lasting from 12 to 23 minutes, derived from guitar tones heavily modified by SW's laptop. Two are 'beautiful', stressing the 'ambient' part of 'dark ambient', whereas the other two... aren't, more closely resembling industrial noise. Perhaps surprisingly, I'm drawn to one of each type: I hadn't expected to particularly like something which initially sounds like a ship's hooter jammed on for quarter of an hour, but as higher notes gradually emerged within the deep drone (which is itself less homogenous as it initially seems) of 'Molotov 1502'... well, I found it electrifying. The other 'noisy' piece, 'Corrosive 1702', was almost the converse: a higher-pitched industrial shriek which acquired deeper drones as the track progressed. I found it difficult listening; an exhausting experience.
The other two tracks, 'Glacial 1602' and 'Haze 1402' were closer to the hypnotic multi-layered modulated drones which first drew me into Bass Communion. As the Bass Communion Myspace site (which currently offers samples of 'Corrosive 1702' and 'Haze 1402') says: "transcendent".


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