An Exercise in Not Doing: Grist and the Shamanic Voyage

Grist AuGrist.jpg

   Sombre Soniks: a UK based label specializing in “Dark Ambient artists and also Projekts of a Ritual or Ethnomuzikologikal nature.” For a good time now this label has been an excellent place to look for quality drone and dark ambient bands and albums, and their most recent offering, Grist’s AuGrist, is a particularly high level addition to their expanding collection.

   Grist is an Australian project, likely consisting of a single member, responsible for, as they put it, “black ritual mono,” “shamanic ambient voidscapes,” and “immersive drone environments.” The title for their newest album, AuGrist, is a play on the word “Augurist,” one who, according to Grist, “takes the happenstances of the present and constructs the future with them.” The album is allegedly “an exercise in not doing,” which resulted in 3 lengthy tracks that have been dubbed by the artist as “pure play.” It would appear that the goal with AuGrist was to essentially “let go” of any sort of self critical attachment to the material being created as it was being created, resulting in a listening experience that feels more free flowing, improvisational, and spontaneously generated.

   AuGrist is an album that is deceptively simple, meaning that while its songwriting appears to not be overly complex at first, it gradually reveals more about the subtle grandeur and multilayered dynamics that form its composition over time. This is very much a release that both welcomes and rewards determined listeners, as each subsequent replay of the album is likely to bring things to one’s attention that were not noticed on the previous listens. Tracks begin, seemingly, with thick, smothering “wall of noise” approaches, which at first may not seem overly interesting, but then… layers begin to gradually pile on, and as the music builds and crescendos things suddenly begin to fall into sync: airy guitar melodies, swirling keyboard effects, audio samples from nature, tribal percussion, and more. As is true of most drone and ambient music, here ideas that may not initially make sense begin to more and more with patience and dedication to the full experience on the part of the listener.

   It would not be too far off to compare the effect of AuGrist to the music of bands such as Sunn O))) or Nadja, in the sense that tracks begin with simple ideas that expand and get increasingly more complicated as they progress. If you happen to be a fan of music such as this, that starts small and slowly builds to a grandiose climax, AuGrist will be a definite feast for your ears. A true lesson in abandoning a sense of over arching guidelines with one’s work, this album is nothing less than a stimulating, hallucinatory journey through landscapes of a dense, dreamlike nature. And that journey has much to offer for those who would be willing to embark upon it and give it the repeated attention it demands for the maximum experience.

Are you up for the challenge?

Enter the realm of the Augurist here.

Ravana, your host here at Cryptic Resonations, is an avid fan of experimentation in any and all art forms. Black metal, drone music, ultra lyrical hip hop, surrealist film, and transcendentalist poetry particularly tickle his fancy. He resides somewhere deep in the swamps of Southern Florida, where he regularly fends off alligators and bath salt-addled junkies.

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