Sigillum S – The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications
I must admit, after experiencing Autunna Et Sa Rose and Julie’s Haircut, I have been looking with fresh eyes towards our Italian brethren, and the latest surprise to wash over from those shores for me is Sigillum S. Having started back in the eighties and embracing a multimedia existence, the three main protagonists have released the best part of thirty albums. How I have managed to miss them over all these years is amazing, but there is no overlooking their latest opus.
With the extraordinary title The Irresistible Art Of Space Colonization And Its Mutation Implications, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but had the idea that it might be a suite of similar-sounding themes dealing with distance and the wrench of leaving home. There is a little bit of theory about how genetic mutation could help the colonisation of other planets, which is interesting in itself — but I wasn’t quite prepared for the barrage of different styles spread across the nine tracks contained herein.
the way that the tracks are sequenced prevents anybody from becoming comfortableElectronic manipulation is their stock in trade, but various beats of increasing ferocity don’t allow the album to slip into ambient territory; in fact, this is very far from ambient, with nods to slowed-down techno and even to EBM in places to really shake up the listener. It demands that you listen, and I think the way that the tracks are sequenced prevents anybody from becoming comfortable.
the distant scree of metal on metal and distorted incomprehensible voicesOpener “Occult Storage For Pan-Dronic Glossalia” (what a title!) has this most fantastic throbbing sensation, as if heavy motors suspended in space were shunting objects into place, the distant scree of metal on metal and distorted incomprehensible voices giving some sense of work going on way above us in some recently visited corner of the universe. The introduction of a slow beat gives a strangely Eastern feel, with feedback and distortion overwhelming the senses. The slowed down vocalising is like some sort of call to prayer, one that is unrecognisable to us, but seems somehow to relay the same meaning as if it were coming from an Arabic mosque.
The electronics are vicious on “Wrong Proto-matter Gravitation”, their cut and thrust being harsh and destabilizing. There is a mystery and an awkwardness to the way the beats are compiled like some convoluted, slowed-down, post-industrial techno. It all sounds as if it is taking place at a remove, like we are in a vacuum or submerged somewhere, but it is beautifully and painstakingly constructed, the ethereal tick of a Geiger counter running over the top of the morass.
builds a little like a prog-house anthem for the alienated and then just vanishes, disappearing out into the vastnessOne of the things I like about this album is the juxtaposition they have managed to produce between the familiar and the alien. The clever, interlocking runs on what sounds like a Bontempi organ are allied to drifting background drones on “Genetically Engineered Insects”, the whispered vocals insinuating themselves as the sparse beats drop in and out. It builds a little like a prog-house anthem for the alienated and then just vanishes, disappearing out into the vastness, to be followed up by something that brings to mind the likes of Nitzer Ebb‘s mid-’80s body music rhythms. What I wasn’t expecting were the mournful piano loops and echoing chants of “Immortality”, which is an excellent volte-face. Needling electronics stuttering in the foreground don’t allow the track to be particularly comfortable, but is an unexpected change of vibe that sits quite well with the creeping dread of “Deep Void Plantations”.
As the album draws to a close, things take a turn for the noisy again. Wild feedback and exhaust emissions; brooding, clashing industrial menace; it all gives the impression that, although the premise is fine, living in a colony way off on some distant sphere, the reality will be harsh and uncontrollable. With emptiness all around, there is still a sense of menace around each corner. Who knows what other things may exist outside of our reality in this place, and how will the mutation implications affect our interaction with them? You can but listen to uncover the answers — but will that just cause more questions?