Erebus reviews ‘Vestigial Digital’


Yury Arkadin reviews Vestigial Digital by Carya Amara

Published in Erebus online magazine, reproduced by kind permission

For Erebus, it is not altogether frequent, let’s say,
that I receive CDs that deviate far from the confines of the metal
genre, so it is always pleasant to hear something new from other
spectrums of music. The only one condition that exists for Erebus,
I would think, is that the music remains dark, provocative and challenging
on some level. With Carya Amara, all three of these requirements
are satisfied, but in a way that I cannot openly confess to understand
completely. The first thing that I think of when I hear this is
the Hafler Trio, second, some minimalist composers like Bertrand
Gunter, and third… I don’t know what exactly.

There are parts here equal to what you would expect on a serene
ambient or new age recording, while others would fit more aptly
on a Japanese noise album. There are some elements of post-rock
to it as well, maybe, but it seems more and more obvious as I type
this that stamping it flatly as such-and-such is completely impossible.
Carya Amara specializes in the avant-garde, the way it was done
a decade or two ago, and later abandoned. In this sense, listening
to Vestigial Digital gives me as much of a nostalgic
perception as it does of a futuristic one. I remember first hearing
Monte Cazazza and the Hafler Trio years ago – the great disorientation
I felt then, and the immense happiness of finding a new form of
music I enjoyed. Of course, the impact and the shock is gone now,
and this applies as well to Carya Amara, yet there is nonetheless
a challenging and refreshing quality to this disc that makes me
return to it every now and then.

This recording, in a sense, summarizes the confusion and chaos
of the early 21st century, as much as it emphasizes a certain technological
progress and stability of recent times through its electronic explorations.
Perhaps it is inaccurate to mention the 21st century, as all of
the material was recorded from 1996 to 1998. Yet, again, it does
offer this impression. As the booklet states, "all tracks use
natural and unnatural sounds, processed using a variety of computer
software". No synthesizers – strangely – we are told, were
used in the process. Very "post-modern", I must say. The
artwork is comprised of photographs of wind farms and their rotating
structures from several angles. This theme of wind farms I find
quite interesting having seen these towering wind generating machines
pictured here the first time in Germany last year, and having been
left highly impressed by their futuristic presence. The last three
tracks on Vestigial Digital, ‘Wind Versus Windscale’
were directly influenced by wind farms, and were recorded on-location
on one of these farms in Kirby Moor (England, I presume) and on
a beach near Sellafield, "on", I quote, "the shores
of the world’s most radioactive sea". The first track, ‘Blowy
Day’ opens with an atmospheric passage of feet stomping and brushing
through the grass, a soft groaning purr in the background of the
colossal wind machines, that abruptly passes to close-proximity
noise, before degenerating in a strange way. The next is an electronic
noise piece, ‘On The Beach’, that sounds something like a Geiger
meter going out of a control, if it could produce (a recordable)
sound, and the last, ‘The Tao of Power’, is a more subtle, amorphous
ambient work.

For all of its eccentric originality, in the themes and in the
sound, Carya Amara possesses a distinguishing atmosphere and taste.
This type of thing is not for everyone. There is nothing overtly
"musical" about Carya Amara, in the strict conventional
use of the term. But it regardless possesses a secret harmony, a
reckless boldness and unconcern for established order, that I have
found quite intriguing. Check it out, if you can.

Review © 2002 Yury Arkadin