The gaping-maw drones that populate Crushed Grass and Milky Ganglia by Garland Villanova challenge the ear’s sense of dimension. The closing track in particular, which is titled “His Clothes Were Imbued with the Scent of Incense,” may be the closely recorded audio of some everyday machine, or the imagined HVAC of a massive interstellar cruiser. And putting aside for the moment these issues of dimension, how exactly do drone and mechanism relate in “His Clothes”? Is that underlying rumble the cause of the industrial moan, or a framing artifact?
Either way, the track is a fitting close to the album, which ranges from electronically masticated vocals (“The Prayers Come to an End”) to high-pitched wisps (true to the track’s title, “Twilight of the First Locusts”). And then there is the title piece, which is like a narrative-less radio play, all hints of spoken word amid a sound design so claustrophobic that it consumes everything in earshot.
Still, if your listening time is limited (and whose isn’t?), the key track is that closing one. Villanova, who is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has a way with mechanistic drones. Her impulse seems to be to let simple sounds speak for themselves over extended periods of time.
Get the full set, four tracks in all, at darkwinter.com.