“Uses for Insects and Magnetic Fields”
Silber Media, 2014
Review by Kent Manthie
Out now, on the Silber Media label, run by Brian Silber, Chvad SB’s newest disc is Crickets Were the Compass, the third album he’s put out under his own moniker, as opposed to the various projects with which he’s been involved since back in 1991. Various projects he’s done in the last 23 years include working with Things Outside the Skin, Tongue Muzzle, The Qualia as well as Controlled Bleeding, of which he was a “full-fledged member”.
Now, for the past several years, Chvad SB has been on his own, making his own albums, allowing him the freedom to do whatever he wants, take what chances he wants, set down the kind of creatively inspired stuff, with no one else around to veto his ideas and/or try to fit his ideas and contributions into a group effort.
This latest album, Crickets Were the Compass is sure to appeal to the ambient/drone/noise aficionado in you. The album is roughly 54 minutes, with six songs altogether. You’ve got a couple shorter ones, that clock in at around 4 ½ minutes, 6+ minutes and 7 minutes. But the longer ones, such as “The Dust Cloud Permeates”, comes in at 14:25, “People Keep Asking and I Say You’re Well”, at 9:30 as well as the title track, which ends the album, at 12:21.
It doesn’t much matter how long the individual songs are, since there really is a seamless, unfragmented pattern to Crickets… The album starts out with the bleak, dark “It Haunts Her”, a fitting title to a deep, ambient and, yes, haunting aura about it. “It Haunts Her” brings up memories of Brian Eno’s ambient masterpieces. Not as beautiful and ethereal as the Ambient set of albums Eno did: Music for Airports, Music for Films, etc. but there’s something similar to one of his early ambient albums, 1975’s Discreet Music, which really set the tone as a prototype to today’s long, instrumental drone works. One of my personal Brian Eno projects was one of the collaborations he did with King Crimson main man, Robert Fripp, No Pussyfooting, which is very moody, subdued and filled with “drone”, but, unlike the album at hand, Chvad SB’s Crickets Were the Compass, the difference that No Pussyfooting had was the eerie guitar work that Fripp laid over Eno’s synthesizer souffle. On Crickets…one does hear some guitar in the background here and there, but it is in more of a harmony, background way, it doesn’t have the closeness of those two amazing artists, Fripp & Eno. On the two tracks that make up No Pussyfooting, “The Heavenly Music Corporation” and “The Swastika Girls”, which take up a side each, on the LP version (on the re-issued CD version, to fill up the time that is available, they added some interesting things: there were the original two tracks as well as the same two tracks played backwards, which doesn’t sound all garbled and unlistenable, it retains that same eerie quality and that creepy, high-pitched guitar still resonates perfectly).
But, back to Chvad SB. Looking over his biggest influences, one begins to understand where it is from which he’s coming. The bands who really had a hold over him and inspired him to become the drone demi-god he’s become, include Lustmord, Swans, Coil, The Residents and even the avant-garde jazz of violinist Jean-Michel Jarre.
But even when you have a number of influences who’ve inspired you to get busy and do your thing, you can’t be going around being derivative, making music that will make people say “Oh, wow, that stuff, sounds just like Coil”, or “The Swans sounded like this back on their second album” and so on. You’ve got to internalize what you’ve learned from these artists, and then the music that you make needs to come from deep inside you; from a place that only you have been or that only you can make sense of.
This is exactly what Chvad SB has done. When listening to Crickets Were the Compass, I don’t find myself thinking of other bands or picking the album apart to see if I can find comparisons to make to other groups. Also, besides the dark ambiance, the drone effects, the rhythm guitar that trickles through it like dripping water from a rocky spring. There’s an industrial affect to its qualities that pierce through the veil of the droning synthesizers. It’s not the smirking, nihilism of Throbbing Gristle, say, or the mechanized, noise of Whitehouse, but there are certain images one gets while listening to Chvad SB of automation and the beauty of the brutal force of machines.
The album is perfect for anyone who is already a fan of Silber Media’s roster or for those who like the hypnotic, uninterrupted mixture of silicon, iron and lead, a long, dreamy album to listen to, all the way through and then come out the other side with a cleared head.
For those who want more information on Chvad SB, the new album, Crickets Were the Compass, or to find out more about similar releases, etc., check out the Silber Media website: http://www.silbermedia.com or check out Chvad SB’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/ChvadSB. -KM.
Review originally published here: