Insiden: Above Us (In Paradisum)
On a first impression, French outfit Insiden traverses similar terrain to the murky underworld of Haxan Cloak. The sound is pitch black and ominous, like an impending apocalypse looming overhead (presumably explaining its title). Its doom-laden dirges focus heavily on cello for textural, low-end drones that are equally harrowing and lonely, with a biting, metallic edge at times that is likely to make even hardened listeners uneasy. “Comme un navire pris dans la glace,” for instance, evolves into a shrill blast of noise about halfway through that vibrates in the inner ear, yielding a qualified physical response much like a more acoustic version of the harshness an act like Emptyset delivers digitally. It’s not all so severe, though; this short album has a nice trajectory about it, starting off dark and getting progressively darker before gravitating toward the light slightly. “Sitting Near an Imaginary River,” for instance, is spacious and pensive, recalling the stark bass arrangements of Rothko, while the closing title cut feels almost bright by comparison, as if the clouds have parted and at least a few beams of light have broken through. It’s noisy and droning, but it’s the counterpoint to the darkness heard on the album’s first half. Brass, guitar feedback, and strings all work well to illuminate the previously shadowed landscape; Insiden crosses a broad trajectory of sound, starting in the dark depths and moving into light in its final proceedings.