We have here a Power Electronics album of a particularly minimalist, ‘monochromatic’ kind, even as far as other examples in the genre seem to go. Despite this, it is more subtle than a first impression may mislead one to believe, and the final product results in something far more powerful than the improvisations of Xenophobic Ejaculations. Like the latter, Tangos des Todes base their compositions on primarily two sound material sources (at least on this only full-length) that jump to the ear: a distorted vocal line and a multi-layer noise-distortion line. A ‘proper’ synth also makes a discrete, subtle apparition that may be deemed unimportant by some but which upon repeated listens gives an inflection in specific moments so that the image in evolution is enriched and given an unexpected twist.
What at first hits us is a strong wind carrying a voice as if funneled through a cavern, revealing the existence of at least another entrance, and the role of the cavern as a portal not only to the under-ground world, but to above-ground lands made foreign by virtue of the morphing effect that the passage would have on the living creature traversing it. What to some would spell self-realization and individuation, would for others store madness and destruction. Later in the initial presentation (in ‘Transformation into Snake’) this voice is heard much more clearly, though still through a veil. At this point, we are no longer at the mouth of the subterranean entrance, and thus wind plays a lesser role, and whatever is producing the voice very close at hand. Words are included that talk about a solitary, subterranean excursion to find a precious stone, and the horrific apparition of what could be a nest of snakes —and an identification with the snake, possibly as a shadow figure.
The greatest challenge in fairly ascribing value to Drowning in the Stygian Marsh, in its ultra-distorted and minimalist power electronics presentation, is to be able to find and latch on to an organic rhythm, despite the conspicuous lack of percussion or traditional/conventional musical tones. In time and dedication, repeated sessions with the recording in a pensive state of mind will slowly but surely reveal distinctive qualities in each stage along the pieces. As this become identifiable, the greater, twisted arch along the transformation will become evident as well. As one is better able to isolate oneself into the narrow confines of the setting, this recording will speak out even as one is ready to listen. Rather than a show or an exposition, what we find her is a tool, and portal for which the aforementioned cavern may be taken as a metaphor, despite its probable concrete existence out there. As far as it is possible, could Tangos des Todes have provided us with a kind of ‘sonic black mirror’ here?
“We are in the realms of hypothesis, but we are entitled to believe that if the hunters of the painted caves did practice sympathetic magic as is generally admitted, they felt at the same time that animal nature was sacred. This quality implies the observation of the oldest taboos and at the same time a limited degree of transgression, comparable with that which occurred later. As soon as human beings give rein to animal nature in some way we enter the world of transgression forming the synthesis between animal nature and humanity through the persistence of the taboo; we enter a sacred world, a world of holy things.”
—Georges Bataille, Erotism, ‘Murder and Sacrifice’, p. 84