Malpais, his collaboration with fellow southwestern experimental musician William Fowler Collins released last year on Utech Records. With my interest piqued in the time after digesting that particular record, as well as seeing both musicians in action at the Utech Records Music Festival last Summer, I found myself digging into AZ native Mike Bjella's back-catalog. I quickly learned that the deep haze found on Malpais was a little out of character for the GOG project, which, in previous releases on Land of Decay, Utech, and Bjella's own label "Sounds of Battle and Souvenir Collecting," opted more for pitch black guitar ooze. A primordial and menacing exercise in "amplifier worship" guitar drone, I had my headphones ready and my ears prepared for a subsonic journey through Hell itself...
...which, oddly enough, I didn't get! Though there is an undeniable darkness about double-LP In Our Architecture This Resounds, released earlier this year on King of the Monsters Records, there is an embracing of magnificent harmonic overtones which, juxtaposed against the thick, trudging drones and textured noise which emanate from Bjella's amplifier, creates a sort of balance which often goes unused, left, and ignored in the drone scene. Where most drone artists concentrate on the separate spheres of "pretty/ethereal/emotional" and "ugly/detached/inhuman," this current incarnation of GOG, a trio of Bjella, Ernst Sonnenbrand, and Gordon Heckaman, embraces both ends of the spectrum, resulting in a near-organic mixture of light and dark. If anything this album is sort of "purgatoric," if that's even a word; you, the listener, are aware of the vast opposites which surround your stasis, and yet, thanks to your current state, you can only accept each as what they are: light and its absence. That isn't to say this album is stagnant like Purgatory's stasis, but merely a middle ground where both exist in the forms of harsh cymbal scrapes, temperamental effects loops, plodding percussion (a first for GOG!) and surprisingly melodic puddles of guitar.
In Our Architecture This Resounds shows a new, unexpected face of GOG. A beautiful and harrowing exit from pure guitar drone into the world of perfectly textured, well-rounded experimental music, I can only excitedly imagine where Bjella will take GOG next. A beautifully packaged white-vinyl 2LP, In Our Architecture This Resounds comes with a magnificent 33"x22" foldout poster, depicting the full artwork by Sandro Setola. Though limited to 220 copies, you can still find some direct from the label here.
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