Dark clouds loom. The approaching dead calm chills with grave portent. The skies crackle and spark illuminated by the heavenly seizures of an electrical storm. Soon where there was hope there will be hopelessness. Welcome listeners and readers alike to the Revenant Sea. Out there are versions of the civilisation you have come to know. Twisted, turned and refracted back upon a parallel axis you were too comatose by commercialism, selfishness and greed to take notice of or, worse still, realise existed. Much like a truth in plain sight that you don’t wish or maybe refused to see. Perhaps a would be tokenist fork in the path drawn by the consequence of a choice or decision like that shall we say posed by the simple question should I go left or should I go right. Those alternate outcomes lurk just out of view, a ghostly fleet of the moment impression out of the side of your eye too fast to register and too brief to recall yet all the same leaving an uneasy footprint. Here in these twilight voids ghost stories, legends, folklore and reality overlap and blur. This is the lair of the Revenant Sea – a parallel universe fed and birthed upon strange occurrences, forgotten happenings and secret histories. ‘the revenant sea’ offers no happy ever after, neither nor will some nature born contagion or flag waving histrionics emerge to save the day. This is an end game. An epitaph. So what then or who is the Revenant Sea. Those among you with sharp eyes and a thing for taking notes will have no doubt eyed previous references in these pages to the Revenant Sea when we waxed lyrically about a collaboration with Roadside Picnic (more from them later – if we think on – and indeed the laptop holds its nerve) entitled ’the sun of these corridors’ – a track lifted from a proposed EP ’their words are lost in the din of jets’ slated for release later in the year (see tales from the attic – volume IX for further enlightenment). The sister project of Wizards Tell Lies, the Revenant Sea finds head wizard Matt Bower traversing those very twilight zones to delve ever deeper into the mysterious and the macabre. limited to just 40 cassette copies via the small but perfectly formed Auditory Field Theory imprint and available as an unlimited download, ’the revenant sea’ is a horrifyingly bleak four part suite whose callous and dark thematic guide line heaves with the nightmarish menace of invasion, oppression, suppression and extra terrestrial human gene experiments. Sound wise heavily referencing the sparsely chilled austere alien atmospherics and moods as ventured one time by a classic late 60’s / early 70’s era BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Bower crafts an aural experience twisted and fused by frequency manipulations and chamber electronics crippled and bled in futile isolationism whose roots are heavy in 50’s cold war / sci-fi idents. With unmistakable nods to the (Louis and Bebe) Barron’s genre defining ’forbidden planet’ soundtrack and without doubt appealing to those strange sound purists who subscribed to Sub Rosa’s very excellent and extensive ‘an anthology of noise and electronic music’, ’the revenant sea’ occupies a place located somewhere – thematically wise – between HG Wells‘ ‘war of the worlds’ and Wally K Daly’s ‘before the screaming starts’. stark, striking and framed in an inescapable penetrating bleakness, much like visual portrayal of classics penned by Nigel Kneale such as ‘Quatermass’ and ‘the stone tape’ rather than opt for an all out sonic attack Bower prefers instead to allow your imagination to wander, by way of a subtle layering of choreographed tension through monochromatic sound sketching that sense of chilled macabre is earthed to a disturbing psychological quotient. Case in point the opening salvo ’its been following the plane since Moscow’ is metered to a subtle shift in tonalities that crisscross and interweave between dronal sub plots, ghostly chimes, crackling interferences and distorted transmissions – the sonic script is one of disorientation fractured by moments of sinister silence the spell broken only by the stilled shimmering hypnotic hum of alien engine drives which serenely observe until the 8 minute mark wherein via a heady wave of activity the mood manifestly blackens with the onset of ray beams of electrical energy. The oblique ‘a little extermination project (we will burn)’ finds the axis shifting into ever more dread drilled
territories, cloaked in a cavernous gloom a disquieting hollowness descends, the use of space is adeptly utilised to create a would be fire scorched apocalyptic landscape choked in smoke, fear and oppression, upon this debris warring leviathans stalk the wastelands applying their scorched earth assault to punitive effect. Disturbing still is the unsavourily titled ‘induced mutations for accelerated domestication’ which to inject just a little light relief before you all flock for cheerier climes by title alone had me impishly recalling the hapless Bill Kerr’s impromptu burst in song in the ‘poetry society’ (’when you’ve got homespun’s and selective evolutions…..’) in Hancock’s Half Hour. Alas but back to the grimness post haste for here the mood achieves morbid intent – trimmed in chamber drone recitals that sublimely cast a sinisterly sterile vacuum to proceedings there’s a horror phonic dread decamped here – amid the insectoid clicks, surgical incisions, blistering flesh and cracking bones overseen by malevolent beings a grisly resignation stirs. ’and they swept the stars from our sky’ brings matters to bleak conclusions, with whatever vestiges of mankind now subsumed as hosts to a new mutant hybrid this ominously blankly staring softly turned dream weaving soundscape serves as an inescapable epitaph to what was once but is now no more. Without question a stirring and scaring epic nightmarish collage.