steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Various Artists

"Describing Paranoia" CDR

Parasomnic Records

Genres: ambient, experimental, electronic

PMB 2211
10002 Aurora Avenue N, #36
Seattle WA 98133

Apr 5 - 11 2004

Describing Paranoia is Parasomnic Records' second release, following their previous Somniloquies, Vol. 1 disc.  Though both releases are compilations, there are a few key differences.  Firstly, Describing Paranoia is a CDR, while Somniloquies was a CD.  A step down?  Perhaps that could be construed from the situation, but in actuality the 'amateur' format was chosen to make this release more unique and special - this is actually a limited edition comp.  True fans of the experimental and ambient underground will surely appreciate that many CDR releases surpass the quality of those commonly available on professionally-mastered compact discs.

The second main difference is that, while Somniloquies featured a rather large number of contributors, Describing Paranoia limits itself to four - each one donating three tracks to the cause.  As such, this is more of a split album than a compilation, and thusly allows more time for each act to flaunt its assets.

First on deck is Anaphylaxis, the DIY ambient pseudonym of Jason Coffman.  His compositions are dark and atmospheric, using elements of found sounds, noise, and electronics to create a sobering, powerful soundscape.  Dark ambient fans will be in love.

Hollydrift follows with three pieces of his own creation.  His focus is on abstract, atmospheric music, though there is a lot of experimentation with spoken word samples going on as well.  Hollydrift brainchild Mathias Anderson has come up with some very interesting work - this is dark enough to be creepy and mind-massaging, and conceptual enough to interest those more infatuated with the 'academic' side of experimental music.

Kava Project comes up next, offering a fine collection of rhythmic drone tracks - imagine ambient atmospherics crossed with tribal percussion.  Though they have creepy, almost evil overtones, KP's three compositions are also quite relaxing and smooth - in the dark, these pieces create a very powerful and interesting effect.

The Devouring Element closes off this disc with a batch of experimental tracks mixed with noise, spoken word, and quite a few electronica-influenced elements, especially rhythmically.  Though the chosen compositions are quite eclectic, and may have some problems with flow, for the most part TDE's material is of high quality.

If someone were to come up with a definitive list of DIY-style dark ambient releases, Describing Paranoia could easily find a place on it.  Take a look.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 12 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]