Amulets - Blooming

27 Jul 2021 - Thorsten

Noise, Shoegaze, Drone, Electronica | The Flenser | Release date: 02 Apr 2021

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One can say whatever one chooses about the somewhat funny logo of The Flenser but one thing remains for sure: There is hardly any other record label out there with such an impeccable catalog. The latest record by Portland-based audio & visual artist Randall Taylor under his moniker Amulets proves it with a very special kind of Shoegaze combining electronics with huge Walls Of Sound and resulting in phantasmagorical ambiance and nightmares.

Blooming is Taylor’s 15th solo full-length since 2015 (!!!) and yet it seems as if everything he did led up straight to this one. His music is on point and it is developing and growing in front of our very ears. Of course, one might argue that every record is built and constructed in front of us, but the way he assembles his records with a sometimes minimalist approach or a sometimes larger-than-life grandeur is unheard of. He is the kind of electronic composer one rarely finds, even though people try to compare him to other famous forerunners like Rafael Anton Irisarri or Hainbach. However, his gusto for harsh electronic parts, similar to some deranged Black Metal riffs, sets him apart from most of his comparisons. If one has to compare him, other The Flenser acts like Black Wing, drowse, Midwife or even Planning For Burial might be the best choice because of a similar atmosphere. Outside of his label’s roster, Big Brave or Wreckmeister Harmonies might be references, although he is neither as doomy as the former nor as maritime as the latter.

When listening to his use of field recordings of birds in a forest (as in the opening title track of the record) and the way he uses the higher pitches of these to counteract the harsh wall of noise cutting right through the earthy atmosphere, it becomes obvious that to him the original atmosphere of his sounds is not really important. The same can also be said for some of the louder field recordings used like the oncoming plane audible at the beginning of ”Observer Effect”: here he reverses the effect. The chirping birds in ”Blooming” gave a very nice, intimate, lively mood which was cut up by the harsh electronics. In ”Observer Effect” the loud, soulless sound of the plane is countered with some wavering bits which give away some image of rippling water in a pond. At times one can hear some real-life instruments like guitar-pickings underneath the tracks, or some simple piano notes.

This record is like a magnifier in certain moments making some sounds bigger than they really are and thus showing their “character” a bit more; at other times he applies a minimizer to these sounds in order to not have them dominate the whole song (like the airplane). His shifting soundscapes are building or collapsing, tumbling and supporting each other and yet, it seems as if Taylor is able to give each exactly the amount of space and volume he needs to create a picture. A picture blooming and developing in front of one’s very eyes. Which image it is – well, that is up to each of us to decide. For Amulets paints with sounds, not with words and as we all know sounds are indiscernible and therefore differ largely from one person to the next. Nevertheless, witnessing this process of growth with our very ears is industrially marvelous. Once again, a Flenser-release that, when really listened to, will captivate one’s ears and minds for a long time.