Chra: Empty Airport (Editions Mego)
Stephen King published a story called “The Langoliers” in the early 90s (made into a pretty terrible TV mini-series not long after) about a flight whose sleeping passengers awaken to find themselves alone. I won’t go into the plot, but when they do land and explore the airport, they are also completely alone. Life has all but fully stopped, as if not another soul exists. Chra’s Empty Airport conjures up such stark and lonely imagery of what would typically be a place rife with activity and business, bustling with energy. So the often inert tracks of Empty Airport are intriguing in their ability to evoke a feeling so at odds with that energy, somehow airless and inert, completely still. (This is something I liked about another recent Mego release, IL-P-O in Dub’s Communist Dub.) Chra exploits the atonal buzz and hum of live wires, glitchy sputters, and delay alongside some of the aforementioned field recordings and drones to give her airport the emptiness the title suggests.
Despite how much each of these pieces commonly conjure up imagery of lonely or empty spaces, they complement one another well and run the gamut with dynamics. “Luminscent” is a rolling cascade of distorted beats, recalling the same harsh ritualism of Demdike Stare, but its unpredictable edits and juxtapositions make for pretty interesting and unique listening. “KPN” has a really handsome swell of hazy noise at its climax while “Fits of Asthma” heaves and wheezes just as its title suggests. “Soca Valley” on the other hand sounds like detritus made aural — plucked, discordant guitar and swirling hiss and effects that still feel somehow devoid of a human touch, oddly. It’s sort of a strange album, in that it lacks much to traditionally hold onto — there’s nary a hint of melody to be found, nor any real typical rhythm. Instead these are spaces that feel three-dimensional and open and lifelike, each one captivating in its own respective intimacy. Instead of conjuring up dark cavernous spaces like many dark ambient albums can, these feel monochrome and empty and still, yet mundane, just as its title suggests. Another sterling entry into the Mego catalogue, highly recommended.