Dwellings & Druss are both literally and figuratively touched by the hand of Gnod. An offshoot of the aforementioned Salford-based high priests of sonic rural menace, Level 3 offers an incredibly stark and bare deconstruction of Gnod’s often punishing, near-tangible tectonic grooves. This self-styled ‘wavering mutant techno’ has roots in Cologne, Sheffield and Detroit, but its actual base is somewhere far in the depths, utterly submerged is some form of fathomless abyss.
And you know what? This rather crepuscular experience is strangely all-consuming, and dare I say, enjoyably so. The two tracks on offer here, running to almost twenty minutes each, are mixed with an unusually precise clarity and distinction; for such ‘deep’ or obscured music, Level 3 does not sound like it was recorded inside someone’s sock, rather on the crest of a magma wave. And there appears to be a certain amount of nominative determinism at play here, too: the first track is titled ‘Cesium – 137’, a deadly form of radioactive metal while the second track, Strontium – 90 (presumably not a nod to Sting and Stewart Copeland’s short-lived outfit immediately prior to the Police), refers to the lethal chemical released from an atomic bomb or nuclear explosion.
Accordingly, ‘Cesium – 137’ pre-empts the impending chaos with a gradual, slow burn ripping though a syncopated beat, a sort of build up to detonation while Strontium – 90 sounds like the panic stricken aftermath, all warped and wonky and just plain wrong synths panning from left to right before the introduction of a brief, repeated stabbed note signals the fissioning out of the madness. This gives way to an uncertain calm, the fluttering notes sounding like mere fragments or echoes in place of anything concrete. Dwellings & Druss most resemble their Gnod forbearers in terms of the build up and eventual release; when it happens, it’s never quite what you expected. And the impact is then heightened as you never really know where this is going. Whether this is true for the band themselves is another matter; nevertheless, it makes for incredibly switched-on, visceral listening.
Despite Luke Haines’ claims to the contrary, Level 3 really is post-everything; the album takes everything from Krautrock to psychedelia to trance and ambient and drowns the genres in their own obsolescence. Any pulses or throbbing beats are abruptly cut off or cloaked in hissing; the two tracks sound atrophied, stifled by their own debilitating drones. Yet this subterranean rumble is strangely seductive, as if Dwellings & Druss are tapped into a certain sagacity normally unavailable to the rest of us but, once confronted, we’re more than willing to be fully submerged. Heaven (or hell) knows what Level 4 could sound like.
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