cover front

Heute fiel mir das Erstlingswerk von UnicaZürn in die Hände und wusste mich gleich zu begeistern.

Bestehend aus den beiden englischen Musikern Stephen Thrower (u.a. Cyclobe, Coil) und David-Knight (u.a. Arkkon, Shock Headed Peters, The Fast Set). Beide sind auch Mitglieder des Amal Gamal Ensemble. Als Gastsängerin und Coverdesignerin wurde Danielle Dax gewonnen.

Musikalisch könnte man UnicaZürn als eine Weiterentwicklung von Cyclobe hören.
Die CD könnte Leuten gefallen welche gerne die Dark Ambient Sachen von Lustmord mögen, auch die Coil-Liebhaber sollten ein Ohr riskieren.

Und wem meine kleine Vorstellung zu kurz und ungenau war, hat hier nun noch die Möglichkeit die Brainwashedrezi zu lesen, viel Spaß!

von Anthony D'Amico

Borrowing their name from the famously disturbed German surrealist/girlfriend and inspiration to Hans Bellmer, Stephen Thrower's first collaboration with experimental guitarist Daniel Knight (Arkkon/Shock Headed Peters) is a challenging and hallucinatory plunge into claustrophobic dread that shares stylistic territory with Thrower's own Cyclobe and (to a lesser extent) his former Coil band mates' late-period ambient work.

Temporal Bends is culled from five long years of recording sessions and improvisations between these two Amal Gamal Ensemble band mates. While finishing only four songs in five years, the pair nevertheless seemed to have been quite creatively fertile. There is probably nothing here that will surprise any Cyclobe fans, but Stephen and Daniel have certainly crafted a mindfucking monster of a debut.

The bulk of the running time is split between the lengthy titular four-part suite and a somewhat shorter (but similarly dense and deliberate) “Six Fabulous Mutilations” (the title of which perhaps betrays Stephen Thrower's other career as a horror film scholar). The album is rounded out by two more minor pieces that seem a bit less composed, the second of which features guest vocals by Danielle Dax (who also contributed the cover art).

“The Temporal Bends” starts off somewhat tamely with eerie, rather artificial-sounding guitar and synthesizer atmospherics and a deep, pseudo-industrial squelching rhythm that reminds me strongly of Musick to Play in the Dark-era Coil, which turns out to be an extremely deceptive touchstone. The piece soon plunges into an unrelenting black hole of suffocating disquiet and jettisons anything rhythmic or song-like for an abstract and cinematic unfolding that follows only the logic of nightmares—a tone that remains firmly in place for the entirety of the album with little relief.

While all the tropes of the dark ambient genre are on full display (cavernous drones, dissonant harmonies, bleak sustained guitars, endless ebbs and swells, etc.), the duo is quite inventive with their textures and instrumentation. Stephen plays saxophone and clarinet and I am fairly certain that there are digitally mangled recordings of kittens in two tracks. Thrower’s macabre saxophone impressionism cuts through the heavily processed surrounding maelstrom quite nicely and the constantly shifting and warping trajectory of the material is much more reminiscent of grotesquely twisted modern classical than the stark, more static existential horror of artists like Lustmord. “Six Fabulous Mutilations” is probably the most successful of the four works, as it expertly blends coldly disembodied spoken word, dystopian Tangerine Dream-style space music, white noise, shuddering processed vocals, and a host of unpleasant squirming and echoing noises into an unsettling whole.
The two shorter pieces are both pretty odd and warrant discussion as well. The somber lounge jazz of “Nautilus” again recalls Coil (albeit only indirectly), as it shares their tendency to inhabit weird non-genres and/or pervert existing ones. Of course, Thrower and Knight quickly throw a wrench into the works, as the piece is buffeted with spaced-out vapor trails of synthesizers and flayed by distorted squalls of impassioned saxophone before abruptly taking a permanent detour into infernal abstraction. Danielle Dax’s aberrant “Jack Sorrow,” on the other hand, is surprisingly concise and devoid of stylistic detours. Instead, it is just plain creepy: Dax breathily coos a brief morbid nursery rhyme over a bed of heavily processed meowing to end the album on a paradoxically bedtime story-esque note (given that all that preceded it closely resembled a particularly mind-ruining nightmare).
The unambiguous mood of the album is one of disorientation and submerged horror and I was not at all surprised to later learn that the material was recorded along the English coast or that water was a deliberate inspiration. Temporal Bends is exactly the sort of music that I would expect to hear if I was rapidly losing consciousness in a pool of my own blood aboard a haunted submarine (a compliment I rarely give). This is an impressively ambitious, harrowing, and complex album.


  1. Temporal Bends : I) Ship Of Shadows / II) Tunnel / III) Timefrieze / IV) Black Glass Mask
  2. Nautilus
  3. Six Fabulous Mutilations
  4. Jack Sorrow
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