Drone recordings that fail to inspire often do so because they lack texture. There is a kind of flatness that the genre sometimes inspires that can be especially difficult to sustain in long compositions.
This second effort by Thighpaulsandra and Massimo Pupillo is so far removed from that criticism that I hesitate to even associate them with it. While this new two-track ambient disc presents drone elements, there’s a great deal more built in.
That won’t surprise the duo’s followers. Thighpaulsandra has played a role on a number of Coil projects, including the influential Musick to Play in the Dark and Astral Disaster releases. He’s produced albums under his own name and as Double Vulgar. And he partnered with Wire’s Graham Lewis on UUUU. Pupillo is the bassist of Roman trio Zu, a jazz band that owes as much to hardcore as it does hard bop.
The title of this new project is a reference to psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s 1970 book of the same name. Subtitled An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, it explores the human psyche and its connection to the medieval art of alchemy, a kind of proto-chemistry from the medieval age. It’s a theme Coil fans will recognize.
In the context of this album, alchemy is about music that combines digital and analog elements. Both artists contribute electronics. Thighpaulsandra’s synthesizers and Pupillo’s electric bass add welcome detail.
The work alternates between contemplative atmospherics and screeching, growling bursts of noise. It’s not a language many of us will understand, but there is plenty here to appreciate.
The name they’ve chosen – URUK – points back to an ancient Mesopotamian city founded in the fourth millennium BC.