Catalogue Number: B20_07
Release Date: May 21st 2012 on digital and DVD
Purchase links are below – click to jump
Christopher Ernst, aka Penalune, clearly doesn’t want for inspiration – in the 18 months of his project’s lifetime he’s delivered two well-received albums for STL’s Something imprint, the only outside artist to feature on the label; a further 40-minute collaboration with violinist Kenny Wang and the inauguration of his Voodoo Down label demonstrate Ernst’s prolific nature.
With Ernst’s fourth missive, Broken20 follow on from John Cohen’s ‘Tar River’ DVD release (B20_05) in bringing Penalune’s cinematic drone to the screen, as ‘Not All Clouds Are White’ will constitute an album-length audiovisual experience, with imagery courtesy of visual artist Reid Bingham.
Sonically Penalune plumbs murky depths, retrieving meditative groans, queasy washes and near-hidden ritualistic rhythmic patterns, providing a Lynchian backdrop with devil in every detail. Opener ‘Feel Of Red’ sweeps in with squashed, oppressive pulses before thick fuzzy synths announce an eerie whole-tone scale that both elevates and subjugates. ‘Taste of Blue’ evokes early Scorn, Terry Riley and Angelo Badalamenti in equal measure, while ‘Stars and Satellites’ piles the pressure ever more with sheeted white noise and reverberation ad infinitum.
‘Not All Clouds Are White’ follows, conjuring rain-soaked hauntologies and wasps’ nest antagonism. ‘Outrun The Sun’ harks back to the album opener, with slo-mo reverse gasps and morose bass pulses etched in pristine sound design, whereas ‘Cthonic’ allows the pulse to slow with a more melodic drift and some closer, tangible textures. ‘My Gang Will Get You’ rounds matters off with fifteen minutes of tension, threat and eventual release through punishing industrial drum work.
‘Not All Clouds Are White’ is a severe, unfriendly and brutal listen, but as a whole it represents purity of vision and precision in execution, generating exactly the sense of distraction and unease its creator intends.
Each purchase of the physical DVD will ship with a download code for mp3s of the piece.
Coming from the deranged mind of Christopher Ernst and visual artist Reid Bingham, ‘Not All Clouds are White’ sounds something like a minimal techno record without any beats. That doesn’t make a lot of sense I know, but it’s the feel you get from the album; while it might be made up of gassy hisses and low-frequency pulses, there’s so much density in the details you begin hearing rhythms that may or may not be there. It might be a boiling, clattering tap or a throbbing hum but the rhythms are there, somewhere. One for fans of Thomas Koner’s cavernous ambience or the stark loner-acid of Plastikman – this is gonna take you to some weird places, and that’s got to be a good thing.
“…The work of sound artist Christopher Ernst, Not All Clouds Are White is an unsettling listen. Ernst manipulates the listener’s spatial awareness through careful layering and variations in volume – at times it seems as though his blizzard-like drones are lurching into the listener’s personal space, constantly vibrating as though comprised of innumerable particles. Not so much drones, in fact, as swarms. Penalune shares a textural depth with GAS, but Ernst’s music is aggressive rather than elegaic – it frequently sounds like something determined to break through from another dimension, akin to the malevolent spirit in Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist or the revenant child-killer in controversial 1992 BBC drama Ghostwatch. The sense of disembodied dread is palpable – when a strident rhythm emerges during “My Gang Will Get You”, it instils a sense of panic comparable to that of Akira Yamaoka’s sound design for the Playstation classic, Silent Hill…”
- Joseph Stannard, The Wire magazine Jul 2012